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Prosecutors’ position on Yanukovich case fraught with revision of UN resolution on Crimea

January 24, 2017, 5:46 UTC+3 KIEV

The lawyer representing Yakunukovich indicated that the UN had passed the resolution proceeding from Ukraine’s official position, among other factors

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KIEV, January 24. /TASS/. Presentation of the ostensible evidence of guilt on the part of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich by the Office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General fully undermines the position, which the Ukrainian state at the UN in 2014 during the voting on a resolution on Crimea, Vitaly Serdyuk, the lawyer representing Yakunukovich told TASS.

"The Prosecutor General’s Office has fully disavowed the position Ukraine stated in front of all the member-states of the UN in the process of voting on a resolution on Crimea on March 27, 2014," Serdyuk said.

He indicated that the UN had passed the resolution proceeding from Ukraine’s official position, among other factors. The position was formulated at the UN Security Council then by the Russian ambassador, Yuri Sergeyev.

"All the discussions revolved then around Viktor Yanukovich’s letter of March 1, 2014, on the basis of which he is accused of high treason now," Serdyuk said. "The Security Council adopted a resolution in Ukraine’s interests on the basis of the country’s position that claimed the presidential letter didn’t have any legal force because he had stopped being the President of Ukraine."

Along with it, Serdyuk said Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, who opened a case against Yanukovich citing high treason, "attaches the significance of the main item of evidence to the letter."

For instance, while making references to the letter Lutsenko suggests Yanukovich still was President of Ukraine on March 1, 2014, although the Vekhovna Rada national parliament passed a resolution on the President’s self-removal from power, after which other politicians took state power in their hands.

"This can lead up to highly discouraging consequences for our country on the whole in the form of a revision of the resolution on Crimea, the one that is the main document on the issue," Serdyuk said.

He said the copy of Yanukovich’s letter was uploaded at the UN homepage for almost three years already. "Now the Prosecutor General’s Office is pushing Ukraine into a rather awkward situation in relations with the UN. It’s pushing the nation into a trap on the face of someone’s desire to get political dividends of some kind."

In this sense, the high treason case "may turn out to be a very interesting one," Serdyuk said. Apart from analysis of Yanukovich’s letter, the court will also have to give assessment to the political actions of the individuals who assumed the power of rulers of the Ukrainian state at the moment when Crimea broke away from Ukraine and reunited with Russia.

"It wasn’t because of my customer’s letter that Ukraine lost Crimea," he said. Considering the fact, participants in the February 28, 2014, session of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine that focused on the situation in Crimea might become the key eyewitnesses and, quite possibly, suspects in the case for high treason.

Among them, he named the incumbent chairman of the National Security and Defense Council, Alexander Turchinov, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Andrei Parubiy, and other leading Ukrainian politicians.

At a court session on November 28, 2016, where a case over former officers of Berkut riot police was heard and where Yanukovich was giving testimony by teleconference as an eyewitness, Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko read out a notification on the opening of a high treason case for Yanukovich. On January, the Pechersky district court authorized a pretrial investigation targeting the former President, but lawyer Vitaly Serdyuk insists that the authorization was devoid of any grounds.

Following the forcible dislodgment of President Yanukovich in February 2014, mass protests against the actions of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and radicals began in Crimea and in the eastern regions of the country.

On March 16, 2014, authorities in what was then Ukraine’s former Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum reunification with Russia. With the voter turnout of over 80%, as many as 96.7% voters in Crimea and 95.6% voters in Sevastopol spoke in favor of reunification with Russia.

President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on Crimea and Sevastopol’s accession to Russia on March 18 and the Russian parliament ratified it on March 21.

In spite of more than simply convincing results of the referendum, the Kiev government, the U.S. and the EU refused to recognize its legitimacy.

On March 27, 2014, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that labelled the referendum as an illegitimate one and urged all countries and international organizations to withhold recognition of the peninsula’s accession to Russia.

Resolutions of the UN General Assembly do not have legally binding force.

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