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KIEV, August 10 (Itar-Tass) — Ex-Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko pleaded not guilty of illegal surveillance in the investigation of ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s poisoning in 2004. He made the final statement at the Kiev Pechersky Court on Friday and said his trial was ‘political reprisal.’ Most of his speech was dedicated to the current situation in Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian situation looks like a pile of manure fenced with barbed wire rather than democracy,” Lutsenko said. He accused the authorities of keeping him in a prison cell for 594 days for political reasons and stressed he “felt like a free and optimistic person.” “This freedom is not granted by the regime; it is gained in the constant struggle for one’s dignity,” he said.
Lutsenko called on the Ukrainian people “to fight the mafia, gangsters in the high places and to vote for the united opposition in the parliamentary election.”
Lutsenko is charged with negligence. The prosecutor demands 2.5 years in custody for Lutsenko and two other defendants in the case. The victim – the driver of a former deputy chief of the Ukrainian Security Service who was put under surveillance – did not appear in court. He wrote to the court though saying that he did not regard himself as an aggrieved party. The sentence will be read out on August 4.
The court sentenced Lutsenko in late February to four years for exceeding his authority in the provision of an apartment and a pension to his driver and organization of celebrations of the Police Day in 2008-2009. The ex-minister has been in custody since December 26, 2010.