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Kiev court interrupts questioning of Poroshenko, adjourns session

February 21, 19:39 updated at: February 21, 23:43 UTC+3 KIEV

A court in Kiev that is hearing the case over high treason allegedly committed by the former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovich, interrupted the questioning of the incumbent President Poroshenko

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© REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

KIEV, February 21. /TASS/. Obolon district court in Kiev that is hearing the case over high treason allegedly committed by the former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovich interrupted the questioning of the incumbent President, Pyotr Poroshenko, by Yanukovich’s defense on Wednesday and adjourned the session.

Justice Vladislav Devyatko voiced protests against the bulk of questions Yanukovich’s lawyers had asked, claiming they did not concern the essence of the case.

"I’m compelled to stop the questioning of the witness," he said, adding that Poroshenko, who answered the questions by teleconference, would be invited to the court as a witness again.

Justice Devyatko adjourned the session until 10:00 hours on Thursday, February 22.

The lawyers said the conduct of the judges during the session was outrageous. "The defense doesn’t understand what’s happening in the courtroom," said lawyer Vitaly Serdyuk. "They don’t permit any questions."

"The judge and the prosecutors did their best to deny an opportunity to ask questions to Poroshenko," he said. "The court turned down almost every question on our part because the witness didn’t have answers to them."

"The law enforcement system rushed to help the witness," Serdyuk said.

As for Poroshenko personally, the president said the questions addressed to him were "hitting the wrong target".

Yanukovich’s defense said earlier they had prepared about 200 questions to ask Poroshenko.

As part of the case for high treason, the Obolon district court has questioned more than 40 witnesses for the prosecutions. Their list includes the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Andrei Parubiy, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, former Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, the deputy representing the Pyotr Poroshenko Bloc movement, Refat Chubarov, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Yuri Sergeyev, former members of the presidential bodyguard team, and others.

The prosecutors are charging Yanukovich with high treason, complicity in the conduct of an aggressive war, and complicity in the assaults of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and inviolability that entailed the deaths of people and other heinous consequences.

Ukrainian opposition blocked the functioning of the Verkhovna Rada and took crowds of people to the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities in November 2013 after the government said it had suspended preparations for the signing of an association agreement [AA] with the European Union.

The AAs precursors for the start of an ‘accession’ process, first to the status of a candidate country and then to full membership of the EU.

Mass protests on Kiev’s Independence Square, more commonly known as the Maidan, sparked off a tough confrontation between the far-right, nationalistic pro-Western opposition and the government, on the one hand, as well as between the very same opposition and the forces supporting president Yanukovich, most of which consisted of people from the country’s breadwinning eastern, southeastern and southern regions.

The radicals seized a number of governmental buildings in downtown Kiev and set up armed ‘self-defense units’, which plunged into an overt armed confrontation with the forces of law and order.

On February 21, 2014, representatives of the radical opposition and President Yanukovich signed an agreement on the ways of settling the crisis and forming a national unity cabinet.

However, the opposition continued brutal attacks on governmental organizations and its factions in the Rada declared on February 22 they had seized state power in the much-troubled country.

In the meantime, President Poroshenko confessed to the court on Wednesday he voted in 2014 for appointing the Rada speaker, Alexander Turchinov, to the post of a provisional head of state without having precise information on a legally grounded revocation of Viktor Yanukovich’s presidential powers.

"I don’t know anything on a decision by the Verkhovna Rada to cease the powers of the President [Viktor Yanukovich]," he said. "I don’t know about it and they didn’t inform it on me."

"As a people’s deputy, I don’t remember the exact date - it was either on February 23 or February 24 but I myself took part in the voting on a relevant resolution of the Rada," Poroshenko said. "It contained a provision for ceasing his presidential powers because he dodged his duties and for vesting the provisional powers in Rada speaker Alexander Turchinov."

"If you’re asking about the revocation of Yanukovich’s presidential powers, I didn’t have any information on it," Poroshenko told the court. "The entrusting of powers to Turchinov didn’t mean the termination of Yanukovich’s powers.".

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