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KIEV, April 8 (Itar-Tass) - Ukraine’s former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko said he is determined to return to big-time politics after taking a course of medical treatment.
“On Tuesday I intend to undergo a medical examination in a private Kiev clinic and then have surgery,” Lutsenko told television on Monday, April 8, providing no details.
“At any rate, I have to undergo serious medical treatment before I return to active political activities,” he said.
Lutsenko believes that his liberation from prison will facilitate the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. “There is nothing more important for our country now than this document,” he said.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich signed a decree on April 7 pardoning Lutsenko who was released from prison on the same day.
In February, the Chernigov region court of appeals denied early release to Lutsenko. A spokesperson for the People’s Self-Defence party, Larisa Sargan, said the court “did not find sufficient grounds” for releasing Lustenko.
In November 2010, the General Prosecutor’s Office brought criminal proceedings against Lutsenko for unlawfully arranging different work-related benefits for his driver. On December 11 of the same year, the prosecution brought another criminal case against Lutsenko for abuse of office, for allegedly arranging the allocation of a one-room apartment to his driver. The two criminal cases were joined (“the first criminal case”).
On December 13, 2010 the prosecutor completed the investigation, formally indicted Lutsenko and invited him to study the case file, which he did on several occasions between December 15 and 23, 2010.
On December 24, 2010 the General Prosecutor’s Office brought another set of criminal proceedings against Lutsenko for abuse of office (“the second criminal case”). He was suspected of the unlawful authorisation of search and seizure activities against an individual.
On December 26, 2010, Lutsenko was arrested near his home by officers of the Security Service and the investigator of the General Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the second criminal case. According to Lutsenko, he was not informed of the reasons for his arrest and was not given a copy of the charges against him.
On December 27, 2010, Lutsenko and his lawyer attended a hearing before the Pechersky court, which they had found out about only 20 minutes before it started. The hearing concerned the prosecutor’s request to keep Lutsenko in detention pending his trial in the first criminal case. According to Lutsenko, he only discovered after the hearing had started that it did not concern his arrest the day before, as he had assumed.
The court allowed the prosecutor’s request and ordered Lutsenko’s detention, accepting the reasoning according to which Lutsenko and his lawyer had studied the case file slowly and had given information about it to the media. The court also found that Lutsenko had tried to prevent the investigation and was capable of influencing it, and had not admitted his guilt.
Lutsenko’s lawyer appealed unsuccessfully. Lutsenko remains in detention. On February 27, 2012, he was convicted and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and confiscation of property. The judgment was upheld on appeal on May 16, 2012.
Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), welcomed Lutsenko’s liberation by the Ukrainian authorities.
“I warmly welcome the liberation of Mr Lutsenko. During my recent visit to Ukraine I had a long talk with President Yanukovich during which I again expressed my position, and that of the Parliamentary Assembly, that the problem of imprisoned former government members needed to be swiftly resolved.,” Mignon said in a statement.
“I am happy that this message was heard, and I hope that yesterday’s pardon is a clear sign of a turnaround in the Ukrainian authorities’ approach to dealing with those cases considered by PACE as arising from the selective application of justice,” he said.
Mignon urged the Ukrainian authorities “to rapidly find a solution, in line with Council of Europe principles, to the emblematic case of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, and to reform the legal system so that such cases do not recur.”