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Yulia Timoshenko facing life in prison

January 21, 2013, 11:41 UTC+3

The Ukrainian former prime minister has become a suspect in the case of a contract-style murder of parliamentarian

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Ex-prime minister Yulia Timoshenko has become a suspect in the case of a contract-style murder of parliamentarian Yevgeny Shcherban. In case her guilt is proved, the former prime minister faces a life in prison. The opposition demands a thorough investigation of the case.

Timoshenko has received a notification that she is suspected of ordering and organizing for financial gain in collusion with former first deputy prime minister Pavel Lazarenko the murder of Ukrainian parliamentarian Yevgeny Shcherban at the time when she led the United Energy Systems of Ukraine Corporation, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes.

The murder of an influential politician and businessman cost, according to investigators, almost 3 million dollars of which Timoshenko paid almost 2.5 million transferring the money from her off-shore accounts to off-shore accounts of Lazarenko. It is worthy of note that Timoshenko “owes” this turn of events not to Ukrainian but to American investigators, who have exposed the existence of off-shore structures where Timoshenko transferred money. This was found out within the framework of proceedings in which Lazarenko is charged with corruption and money laundering.

Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin reported on that sensation for the first time back in summer, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta says. Up till quite recently experts in Kiev believed the Ukrainian authorities would not be rushing things not to irritate the West, as this week Kiev expects an IMF mission whose decision on granting or declining a new credit to Ukraine depends also on Washington’s point of view. And already in a month, there will be a Ukraine-EU summit at which Kiev expects the signing of an associate membership and a free trade zone agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

But Yulia Timoshenko herself threw a stone in “still waters” of her hospital life, when on January 8 she declared a civil disobedience action. Against that background, the Prosecutor General’s Office called an emergency briefing, during which Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka said the investigation of Timoshenko’s possible involvement in the contract murder had been completed and that the suspect had been officially notified. He said the investigation possessed proof that Timoshenko and her patron Pavel Lazarenko had transferred 2.8 million dollars to the killers.

Lawyers mark that the statement of the prosecutor general means a third criminal case against Timoshenko may be referred to the court already this week. According to some reports, the cases of misappropriations by the United Energy Systems of Ukraine and an involvement in organizing a contract-style murder that date from one and the same period of Timoshenko’s activity may be combined. If her guilt is proved, Timoshenko may face a life sentence.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta cites political analyst Vadim Karasyov as saying that the Ukrainian authorities are not planning to set free Timoshenko till at least 2015, when the presidential election will be held.

Meanwhile, believing opposition parliamentarians who spent with Timoshenko several days last week, there are grounds to be afraid for her life, the Novye Izvestiya writes. Thus, parliamentarian Alexandra Kuzhel from Batkivshina said “We spent two days with her and we saw that these are absolute tortures. Even those facing capital punishment don’t see this. We wept. She cannot step on her right foot, and weighs 47 kilograms, while her body temperature is 35.4. She is constantly under pressure.” At the same time, according to the official version, Timoshenko is okay, and the indisposition witnessed by her supporters is temporary.


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