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Kiev to stake on cooperation with Russia if EU mounts pressure over Timoshenko case

October 14, 2011, 20:19 UTC+3
"Ukraine will stake on economic pragmatism in this case," Livtin said
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KIEV, October 14 (Itar-Tass) —— Kiev will stake on cooperation with Russia within the Customs Union if the European Union mounts pressure and stops the dialog with Ukraine over the Yulia Timoshenko case, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Vladimir Litvin told the Rada parliamentary channel.

“If the EU insists on stopping the dialog on the signing of the Association Agreement with Ukraine, Kiev will abandon that cooperation and stake on the economic benefit – on cooperation with Russia within the Customs Union,” he said.

Russia estimates the Ukrainian benefit from Ukraine’s membership in the Customs Union at $9 billion per annum, Litvin said. That membership is possible if “the position of European politicians who say that dealings with Ukraine should stop and negotiations on a free trade zone should turn technical because of the Timoshenko case,” he said.

“Ukraine will stake on economic pragmatism in this case,” Livtin said. He stressed that Ukraine must never oppose its European course to cooperation with Russia.

The court sentenced Timoshenko on October 11 to seven years in prison for exceeding her authority in the signing of the gas contracts with Russia in 2009.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office spokesman Yuri Boichenko told a Friday press briefing that the investigation of the suspected Timoshenko misuse of “Kyoto funds” and acquisition of ambulance vehicles on governmental guarantees would be suspended until a final decision in her gas case.

“Proceedings related to the two criminal cases would resume with a court order, upon the end of the appeal hearing,” he said.

The Prosecutor General’s Office accused Timoshenko of spending the revenues from selling Kyoto Protocol quotas on greenhouse gas emissions on covering the deficit of the Ukrainian state budget and the payment of pensions. The total sum of misspent funds was 380 million euros.

Another criminal charge brought against Timoshenko was about the acquisition on governmental guarantees of Opel Combo ambulance vehicles. The damage was estimated at 67 million hryvni (over $8 million).

A new case against Timoshenko was initiated on October 12. Detectives said that Timoshenko, while being the president of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine private corporation, under conspiracy with other former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko wrote off the corporation’s debt to the Russian Defense Ministry worth $405,500,000 to the state budget of Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry sent a letter to Ukraine demanding the payment of the debt. Timoshenko chaired the corporation in 1995-1997. She said in June 2011 that there were no debts to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it was disappointed with the Kiev Pechersky District Court sentence on ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, speaking on behalf of the Commission, said: “The EU will reflect on its policies towards Ukraine. The way the Ukrainian authorities will generally respect universal values and rule of law, and specifically how they will handle these cases, risks having profound implications for the EU-Ukraine bilateral relationship, including for the conclusion of the Association Agreement, our political dialog and our co-operation more broadly.”

“The verdict comes after a trial which did not respect the international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal process which I repeatedly called for in my previous statements. This unfortunately confirms that justice is being applied selectively in politically motivated prosecutions of the leaders of the opposition and members of the former government,” she said.

The European Commission hopes that a final decision in the trial of Timoshenko will be made upon her appeal and the de-criminalization of a number of articles of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said.

He said that he would closely monitor the appeal process. No one can go to prison on the basis of outdated laws, the commissioner observed.

Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, made a reserved comment on the guilty verdict on Timoshenko.

“In a democracy, judgment about political decisions should be left to the parliament and to voters, not to courts. I hope that the recently proposed changes to the criminal code in Ukraine will make such trials impossible in the future," he said.

European sources believe that the EU will sign the association and free trade agreements with Ukraine in the end of this year because the documents are important to the encouragement of European aspirations of Kiev. At the same time, the ratification of the agreements by the EU national parliaments may drag on until Ukraine lifts the EU human rights concerns, including the Timoshenko case. Thus, the documents will not take effect in the near future. The late ratification formula is broadly applied by European countries.

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