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KIEV, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The draft amnesty law submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, may affect 1,500 prisoners but will not apply to former Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko.
Amnesty will be granted to prisoners sentenced for minor crimes, minors, sick and elderly people, as well as persons who have children under the age of 18, Justice Minister Alexander Lavrinovich said when presenting the draft law on Wednesday, October 3.
In his opinion, the adoption of the law will help “reduce the number of people who serve their prison terms and who pose no serious public threat”.
The amnesty will not apply to people who committed grave crimes, including those involving violence, as well as those who were convicted for abuse of power under aggravating circumstances (Article 365 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code).
Timoshenko was sentenced under this article and was found guilty of having acted in excess of her powers when signing gas contracts with Russia in 2009.
Timoshenko, born in 1960, is the leader of Batkivshchyna, the main opposition party in Ukraine, and of Yulia Timoshenko's Block. She was the Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2005 and between December 2007 and March 2010. Criminal proceedings were brought against her for allegedly making an illegal order for the signing of a contract concerning gas imports. On October 11, 2011, she was convicted as charged, including of abuse of power, and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and a three-year ban on holding public office. Her subsequent appeal on points of law is currently pending.
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) and tax evasion in the amount of more than 20 million hryvnia.
On October 11, 2011, Kiev's Pechersky District Court sentenced Yulia Timoshenko to seven years in prison.
Timoshenko has also been barred from holding public positions for three years and has to pay a penalty of 189 million U.S. dollars in damages to Naftogaz Ukrainy.
In late December 2011, Timoshenko was transferred from the investigation prison to a correctional facility in the eastern Kharkov region.
Timoshenko is also facing new charges as former head of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine.
Last year’s amnesty on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence covered about 16,000 prisoners, including 8,000 persons who had committed minor crime for the first time, about 5,000 tuberculosis prison inmates, some 1,500 juvenile delinquents, about 1,000 elderly convicts aged 60 and over and more than 700 prisoners with disabilities.
As a result of 16 amnesties in Ukraine since it proclaimed independence, about 162,000 prisoners were set free. Currently, there are more than 150,000 prison inmates in Ukraine.