Tax Evasion Case Against Yulia Tymoshenko Adjourned
Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Monday did not appear in court, where she is to answer to charges of evading taxes 15 years ago, motivating that she was not in a health condition that would allow her to stand on trial.
Yulia Tymoshenko is already serving a seven-year sentence for a case of abuse of office, a sentence which drew Ukraine hard criticism and boycott to the Euro 2012 soccer tournament from many European countries’ leaders.
The charges in this case relate to evading paying an amount of $3.7 million in taxes when she headed a Ukrainian energy company in 1997-1999. The former prime minister denied all accusations and reiterated that the case was another stage of the fight of the regime to remove her from Ukrainian public life.
The court in Kharkiv was adjourned after a brief session, and the next session in this case will be resumed on July 10. Some analysts consider that this decision was made in connection to the higher stages of the Euro 2012 tournament, whose final match is to be hosted by the capital of Ukraine, Kiev. The court ordered a medical examination to ascertain whether the former premier may stand on trial.
The supporters of the former premier accused the judicial system of disconsidering her health condition, as she was diagnosed by German doctors with herniated spinal disk earlier this year, after a hunger strike she undertook to protest the treatment she was having in the prison in Kharkiv.
In April, Tymoshenko complained that she was forced by the prison personnel to have her health checked in a Ukrainian municipal hospital, which she refused, arguing that she feared an attempt by the authorities to assassinate her.
Tymoshenko complained that she has been beaten by the personnel and taken to the hospital by force, an accusation rejected by the prosecutors, who claimed that the personnel did not act outside the framework of the legislation, which, they said, allowed them to use non-violent restraining force to compel the patient to go to the hospital to have themselves checked.
The former premier ended the strike when the German doctors were allowed to visit her and offered her a diagnostic and the proper care in the Ukrainian hospital. Tymoshenko’s health condition was deemed as incompatible to standing in court, as she was not able to even sit in a chair for a long period of time.
On Tuesday, Tymoshenko’s appeal to overturn the sentence passed against her in October was heard in Kiev, with little hopes for success, according to her lawyer, who told the Ukrainian press that there was no justice for Tymoshenko in Ukraine under the rule of the incumbent president.
The president Viktor Yanukovych declared that he would not intervene in the case of the former PM before all trials and appeals are over. The president said on many occasions that the cases against Yulia Tymoshenko were not political motivated, being part of the justice reform the Western countries demanded so much of their country.
The European countries, however, accused Kiev of “selective justice” and demanded that her health condition be attended by professional doctors. Many of the European leaders refused to attend the Euro 2012 matches, in spite of the plea of the Polish PM Donald Tusk, who reminded them that the election of Ukraine as co-host to the tournament is due to Tymoshenko’s pleas as she was the prime minister of her country.
The case of Yulia Tymoshenko sparked much debate around Ukraine’s judicial system and its preparedness to become a member of the European Union, a bid president Yanukovych was pushing for last year.
In November 2011, following the incarceration of the former premier, the European Union postponed sine die the signing of a trade agreement with Ukraine, which sparked dissatisfaction among the leaders of Ukraine.
Analysts believe that the move could bring Ukraine in the sphere of the Russian interests, as Moscow is preparing to launch the idea of a Union similar to the European Union, a Eurasian Union which would comprise the former Soviet states and whoever else would want to join it.
Ukraine has already signed last year a free trade agreement with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, a move considered by many as a response to the refusal of the EU to sign a free trade agreement with them.11