Tymoshenko’s Ally Sentenced To 5 Years in Prison
A former ally of Ukrainian former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced on Thursday by a court in Kiev to five years in prison for accusations of embezzlement and abuse of office. Former acting Defense Minister Valery Ivashchenko was sentenced for abusing office and embezzlement during the selling of a state shipbuilding plant in 2009. Ivashchenko denied having done it, and accused a political motivated action against him.
The case was considered by the Western states as a political vendetta, as they considered the arrest and sentencing a year ago of Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for the same crimes of abuse of office and embezzlement.
Incumbent president of Ukraine, Vitkor Yanukovych, who narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in a presidential runoff in 2010, is accused of conducting an action of ridding himself of the opposition leaders. He retorted that his actions were merely directed against the corruption in the country.
Last year, Ukraine was postponed a signing of a free trade agreement with the European Union after it became clear that the appeal to which Tymoshenko resorted, would bear no results. Earlier in the process, the leaders of Ukraine had been alluding to the fact that they may strike out of the constitution the article that incriminated the abuse of power, which would have offered Tymoshenko the grounds she needed to have her appeal work. The parliament of Ukraine, however, did not strike out the passage from the bill of rights and the former premier was taken to prison.
European Union postponed the signing of the treaty with Ukraine, as a mean to apply pressure on Kiev to determine Tymoshenko’s release. The former premier received all backing from the European countries and the United States, which did not care too much about procedures being observed as they threw their support behind her case.
President Yanukovych and Poland, which was the rotating president of the European Union of the time, insisted that Tymoshenko’s case be dissociated from the matter of the Ukrainian integration, which was of geopolitical importance for both Ukraine and Europe.
As the European Union turned its back on Ukraine, the former Soviet country signed in Sankt Petersburg an accord of free trade with the states in the Community of Independent States, which comprises most of the Soviet countries.
The move was unexpected even for the prime minister of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, who inspired the accord as a step toward the establishment of a Eurasian Union. It was interpreted at the time by analysts as a response to the attitude of the European Union toward Ukraine.
Tymoshenko’s trial, marked by her outbursts against the judge, which brought her holding in contempt of court, and by the testimony of the former president and associate Viktor Yushchenko, who said that the contracts in 2009 had been concluded without him knowing and that he found out about it after a copy was presented to him. Yushchenko said that Tymoshenko had bought gas from the Russians at a very high price at a time the country did not need any more of it. Gazprom said that the contracts had been concluded by strictly observing the laws of Russia and Ukraine.
Yulia Tymoshenko is said to be involved in another case of embezzlement, documented by the Ukrainian secret services, which refers to a fraud allegedly perpetrated in the 1990s, when Tymoshenko was working in the energy domain.
On Thursday, the German humanitarian agencies urged the Ukrainian authorities to allow Tymoshenko treat her herniated disk condition at a medical clinic specialized in back medical conditions.
Ukrainian authorities have said that they provided the former premier with all conditions a prisoner is provided so that their human rights be observed properly. Tymoshenko’s daughter accused prison doctors of attempting to kill her, and the former PM announced she was still considering whether to accept to be treated in Ukraine or not.
German authorities demanded that she be treated in a German clinic, a move which, in the view of the Ukrainian authorities, requires a new legislation.
On Thursday, another of Tymoshenko’s allies, Arsen Avakov, accused of misappropriating 50 hectares of land, was arrested in Italy on the request of the Ukrainian officials.11