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KIEV, September 20 (Itar-Tass) —— Former Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko’s allies condemned the Kiev Commercial Court’s ruling on Wednesday, September 19, on Russia’s lawsuit regarding a debt owned by the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) as a filthy political technology.
“This is a filthy political technology. What is it about? The Ukrainian state will not pay a single kopeck to the Russian Federation in this case. Moreover, after the end of the election process, the court of appeals or cassation will cancel this ruling on the basis of non-existent guarantees that are not even mentioned in the lawsuit,” the head of the party’s election headquarters, Alexander Turchinov, said.
In his opinion, “This is yet another proof of how much they [the incumbent authorities] are afraid of opposition leader Yulia Timoshenko. Throughout the election campaign the authorities will be saying that they are forced into not paying pensions and salaries by having to return some non-existent debts,” Turchinov said.
Former Finance Minister Viktor Pinzenik said the court’s decision to recognise the commercial debt was a state nonsense and a dangerous precedent. “Ukrainian legislation, as everywhere in the world, differentiates between liabilities of the state and liabilities of enterprises; the state is not liable for the obligations of enterprises, and enterprises are not liable for obligations of the state,” he said.
Kiev’s Commercial Court partly upheld the Russian Defence Ministry’s claims against the Ukrainian government with regard to UESU’s debts and ordered the government to pay about 389 million U.S. dollars to Russia. The ruling will become effective if not appealed by the parties.
The debt of 405.5 million U.S. dollars arose under unfulfilled contracts between UESU and the Russian Defence Ministry in 1996-1997 when the corporation was headed by Timoshenko, who is now serving a prison term in a “gas case”.
The Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine that was headed by Timoshenko before she became prime minister drew suspicion of the tax authorities back in 1996.
The tax authorities had noticed a discrepancy between the taxes paid by the company and its big turnover.
“In 1997, a criminal case was opened. The investigation continued despite the fact that the company's head, Yulia Timoshenko, had immunity as an MP. Now the court should examine this case,” Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said earlier.
The Prosecutor General's Office has also filed a lawsuit demanding compensation from Timoshenko for damages in the amount of 19.5 million hryvnia in this case.
Deputy Prosecutor General Yevgeny Blazhivsky said the damage was caused by embezzlement of budget funds and tax evasion.
Earlier, Ukrainian Security Service chief Igor Kalinin said the investigators had collected enough evidence to prove Timoshenko's culpable actions committed when she headed the United Energy Systems of Ukraine.
Ukrainian mass media quoted Kalinin as saying that “the investigation department of the Security Service of Ukraine is working day and night and has collected enough evidence to take further procedural steps.”
On October 20, 2011, the Prosecutor General's Office cancelled the decision to close the criminal case against Timoshenko in which she was charged with embezzlement of more than 25 million hryvnia (more than 10 million U.S. dollars at the exchange rate of 1995-1997, when Timoshenko headed the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine), tax evasion in the amount of more than 20 million hryvnia by using a criminal financial scheme for settlements with the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine for natural gas and by concealing incomes from the operations of her offshore company Somolli Enterprise Limited from taxation.
On October 11, 2011, Kiev's Pechersky District Court sentenced Yulia Timoshenko to seven years in prison and upheld Naftogaz Ukrainy's lawsuit seeking compensation of 1.516 billion hryvnia (189.5 million U.S. dollars) for damage sustained by the company as a result of the gas contracts signed with Russia in 2009.