KIEV, October 24 (Itar-Tass) — The opening of a new criminal case against Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko is related to the discovery of new facts, press secretary of the Prosecutor General’s Office Yuri Boichenko said at a briefing on Monday.
The Prosecutor General’s office press service announced earlier on Monday that on October 20 it cancelled the illegal decision on the termination of the criminal case against former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko on the facts of embezzlement of more than 25 million hryvnas (3.1 million US dollars) from the national budget and tax evasion worth more than 20 million hryvnas (2.5 million US dollars) by means of introducing a criminal financial scheme for the natural gas settlements by Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) and concealment of income from the activity of its offshore company. Simultaneously, the Prosecutor General’s Office challenges under cassational procedure the illegal court decision on closing other episodes of criminal activity within this criminal case. The pre-trial investigation in the case is conducted by the tax police.
The criminal case over tax evasion, as well as embezzlement of budget funds was opened in 2001 and suspended in January 2005. “Timoshenko is charged under two articles – Article 191, Part 5 and Article 212, Part 3 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code,” Boichenko added. He specified that the first article envisages punishment of up to 12 years in prison, the second - up to 8 years.
According to Boichenko, the statute of limitations has not expired for this case, and “there are no violations regarding the timing of bringing her to criminal responsibility.”
In January 2001, the Prosecutor General’s Office opened against Timoshenko criminal proceedings on charges of bribing former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko, the smuggling of Russian natural gas, fraud and large-scale tax evasion during the years when she managed the UESU corporation in 1995-1997.
On February 13, 2001 Timoshenko was arrested on a warrant of the Prosecutor General’s Office on charges of embezzlement of budget funds that were intended for payments for Russian gas. In March 2001, the Pechersky District Court of Kiev ruled that the charges brought against her were unsubstantiated and cancelled the arrest warrant for Timoshenko.
On April 9, 2003 the Kiev Court of Appeals ruled that the decision on opening a criminal case against Timoshenko was unlawful and cancelled it terminating the proceedings.
Yuri Boichenko specified at the briefing that at present four criminal cases are opened against Timoshenko. “The reopened criminal case against Timoshenko is the fourth,” he said. “In addition, criminal cases were opened over the Kyoto Protocol funds, ambulance cars (the cases have been consolidated) and the case opened over the UESU debts,” Boichenko said.
On October 13, head of the Central Investigation Department of the Ukrainian Security Service Ivan Derevyanko said that a new criminal case - for imposing debts of Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine on the country’s budget has been opened against Yulia Timoshenko. The investigation accuses the former prime minister of transferring the UESU debt to the Russian Defence Ministry worth 405.5 million US dollars to the state budget.
On October 11, the Pechersky District Court of Kiev sentenced Yulia Timoshenko to 7 years in prison for abuse of office when signing natural gas contracts with Russia in 2009.
Timoshenko’s trial (she was charged in May 2011) over abuse of office over a natural gas imports contract signed with Russia in January 2009 started on 24 June 2011. Former President and former ally of Timoshenko Viktor Yushchenko testified against her during the trail; a trial he called “a normal judicial process.”
In early July 2011 Ukrainian security service opened a new criminal investigation into alleged non-delivery by United Energy Systems of Ukraine (in 1996) of goods to Russia for $405.5 million, therefore, they say, may be Russia’s claims to the State budget of Ukraine (this criminal case was closed in Russia in December 2005 by reason of lapse of time). Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov (Russian Ministry of Defence) said that Russia has long since forgiven debt corporation UESU and closed the case against Yulia Timoshenko: “The new criminal case - it's cheating.”
On 5 August 2011 Timoshenko was arrested for ‘ridiculing court proceedings.’ In jail Timoshenko was reported to develop a “mysterious ailment.” According to Ombudsman Nina Karpachova, she was suffering from throat problems and had a fever. Timoshenko is being held at Lukyanovskaya Prison.
On 11 October 2011, the court found Timoshenko guilty of abuse of power, sentenced her to seven years in jail, and ordered to pay the state $188 million. She was convicted for exceeding her powers as Prime Minister, by ordering Naftogaz to sign the gas deal with Russia in 2009. The judge also banned her from seeking elected office for her period of imprisonment (disqualifying her from participation in the 2012 parliamentary and 2015 presidential elections). Authorities had deployed hundreds of police officers near the court, which was picketed by about 2,000 Timoshenko supporters. Some minor clashes broke out and some arrests were made after the verdict was announced. Timoshenko can appeal against the sentence; which she compared to Stalin’s Great Terror. Timoshenko and her followers saw the trial as political payback by President Viktor Yanukovich, and his Party of Regions. Both have denied this. President Yanukovich and other government officials have hinted that the law that convicted Timoshenko could be changed in her benefit. According to opposition politicians, this could be done as soon as one week after Timoshenko’s conviction. However, on 18 October 2011 the Party of Regions refused to vote for an amendment decriminalising abuse of office.