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Ukrainian tax service accuses Timoshenko of concealing $165 million revenues

November 11, 2011, 17:27 UTC+3
The Timoshenko case caused harsh comments from Europe
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KIEV, November 11 (Itar-Tass) — The Ukrainian State Tax Service charged ex-Prime Minister, ex-CEO of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine Corporation Yulia Timoshenko on Friday of concealing $165 million revenues, embezzling public funds and dodging over 47 million hryvni (about $6 million) in taxes.

“The pre-trial investigation will be completed within a period set by the law,” the service said.

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. She was also compelled to pay 1.51 billion hryvni (almost $200 million) to Neftegaz Ukrainy.

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 Timoshenko case caused harsh comments from Europe.

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 Parliament deplored the conviction of Timoshenko as a violation of human rights and an abuse of the judiciary designed to silence Ukraine’s leading opposition politician.

“A failure to review former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s conviction will jeopardize the prospects of concluding and ratifying an EU-Ukraine association agreement,” the European Parliament said.

The resolution urged the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that legal proceedings in any appeals against Timoshenko’s conviction or in trials of other members of the former government are fair, transparent and impartial. The deputies insisted that Timoshenko should be allowed to participate fully in the political process both now and in the forthcoming elections in Ukraine.

They fear that the Timoshenko trial is at odds with Ukraine’s proclaimed commitment to democracy and European values, and voice concern at signs of decline in democratic freedoms and the possible use of state institutions for partisan purposes and political revenue. The deputies are also alarmed by reports about the deterioration of media freedom and pluralism in Ukraine.

The parliament welcomed the preliminary agreement to conclude a deep and comprehensive EU-Ukraine free trade agreement, which, it said, could be a basis for finalizing talks on the association agreement.

The deputies believe that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s recently postponed visit to Brussels could have helped to achieve the progress needed to remove technical and political obstacles to initialing the association agreement. The parliament urged the Council and Commission to reschedule the meeting so that it takes place before the planned EU-Ukraine summit in December 2011.

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