Saturday, 18 June 2011

Tymoshenko barred from going to Europe during Yanukovych visit

Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s office on June 17 told former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to stay put in Kyiv as one of three criminal cases against her was sent to court.

The case sent to court on June 17 alleges Tymoshenko abused her authority as prime minister when approving a natural gas supply agreement with Russia in 2009. Launched in April, this is the third pending case against her.

According to a scanned copy of a Prosecutor General Office letter addressed to Tymoshenko, the opposition leader was denied a request to travel next week to Strasbourg and Brussels for meetings with European Union officials. One leg of her requested trip coincided with a June 21 visit to Strasbourg by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych. According to the letter from prosecutors to Tymoshenko, she was also forbidden to visit several Ukrainian regions: Chernihiv, Mykolayiv and Odesa.

Viktor Yanukovych was afraid to meet Yulia Tymoshenko during his visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe, to which she was also invited as opposition leader and the president’s main political competitor,” Tymoshenko’s press service said in a statement.

“Such actions are evidence that Yanukovych’s public pledges to uphold obligations given to the European Union and European Council differ from the real actions of the Yanukovych regime,” the statement read.

Hours earlier, Yanukovych said he wished that “Yulia Tymoshenko will prove her innocence in court and could continue living, working and engage in her favorite activities.”

But Tymoshenko's press service said the decision of prosecutors is “yet more evidence that investigators ... base their decisions not on the law, but on the orders of Yanukovych’s team.”

The investigations into Tymoshenko and arrests of about a dozen members of her 2007-2009 government have been criticized in the West as political persecution. Meanwhile, Covington & Burling, a high-profile law firm hired by Tymoshenko, was expected on June 17 to hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., to reveal findings that investigations against their client are fabricated and politically motivated.

Prosecutors on June 17 urged Tymoshenko to swiftly review other pending cases against her so that they could formally file them in court as well.

Tymoshenko has called the charges against her a sham.

In addition to the charges relating to the 2009 gas agreement, investigators also accuse Tymoshenko of misspending nearly $300 million in Kyoto Protocol funds and of wrongfully purchasing 1,000 Opel Combo vehicles for use by rural doctors. She calls the allegations bogus. Prosecutors are expected to submit both cases to court within months.

In the bellow letter sent to Yulia Tymoshenko on June 17, Ukraine's General Prosecutor's office rejected her appeal to travel to Europe and a handful of Ukrainian cities, preserving a travel ban on her movement

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