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MPs keep Penal Code article under which Timoshenko was convicted

November 15, 2011, 18:57 UTC+3

If the parliament had voted for the amendment, Timoshenko could be released within five days

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KIEV, November 15 (Itar-Tass) — The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday refused to decriminalize Penal Code Article 365, under which former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko was convicted. Just 147 lawmakers supported the proposed amendment which needed 226 votes to pass.

If the parliament had voted for the amendment, Timoshenko could be released within five days.

On October 11, the ex premier was sentenced to seven years in prison, with a three-year ban on government jobs and a 189-million-dollar fine in favor of the Naftogaz Ukrainy company.

Judge Rodion Kireyev said there was evidence that the signing of the contacts between Russia's gas giant Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy – contrary to the agreements concluded by the previous Cabinet – "took place solely due to Yulia Timoshenko's illegitimate and individual actions."

Kiev's appeals court on December 13 will meet in a preliminary hearing to review Timoshenko's appeal.

On Tuesday, the parliament considered the 2nd reading of the presidential bill on decriminalizing a number of Penal Code articles. In all, 223 amendments were proposed, including one from Viktor Shvets, a lawmaker from the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc, who had suggested taking out Article 365.

Timoshenko's bloc walked out in protest, when the amendment on Article 365 did not pass.

In a new criminal case against Timoshenko, she is accused of making the UESU (Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine) debt to the Russian Defence Ministry, worth 405.5 million dollars, a liability of the Ukrainian budget.

Timoshenko headed the UESU corporation in 1995-1997. In June 2011, the ex premier stated there were no debts to the Russian Defence Ministry.

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