Sunday, 27 January 2013
Tymoshenko Probe Angers Opposition Groups
KIEV, Ukraine -- Political confrontation appears set to escalate in Ukraine after opposition parties on Monday demanded the holding of an emergency session of Parliament in reaction to a new investigation against jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The Batkivshchyna party, joined by other opposition groups, seeks to hold the session on January 29 and plans to summon up key law enforcement officials, including Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka. Pshonka, Internal Affairs Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko and SBU security service chief Oleksandr Yakymenko will face a no-confidence vote, Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of Batkivshchyna, said. This may pose a problem for President Viktor Yanukovych, who does not control a stable majority in Parliament after October 28 elections. Yanukovych had to rely on independent lawmakers to make several important appointments in the government. The demands emerged in reaction to plans by prosecutors to seek life in prison for jailed Tymoshenko for her alleged involvement in the murder of lawmaker and businessman in 1996. Tymoshenko denied any involvement in the murder and said the allegations were politically motivated to eliminate her from political life. European leaders have repeatedly criticized the Ukrainians authorities for on-going political pressure and investigations against opposition leaders. But the latest developments raise serious concerns because they may undermine Ukraine’s plans to sign next month an important political association and free trade agreement with the European Union. “If the latest developments in Ukraine prevents the singing of the agreement, we see no other solution but demanding a total change of the government via holding early parliamentary and presidential elections,” the opposition Udar party said in a statement. Pshonka said on Friday that investigators had completed their investigation into the killing of businessman and lawmaker Yevhen Shcherban in 1996 and concluded that Tymoshenko and then Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko had ordered the murder, paying the killers $2.8 million. Tymoshenko on Friday was “served notice of suspicion” of organizing the murder, Pshonka said. Tymoshenko is already on trial for alleged financial crimes when she headed a gas-trading firm in the 1990s. The trial was adjourned on Friday after she didn't appear in court due to her continued ill health, her lawyer said. Prosecutors accused her of trying to "avoid responsibility." Oleksandr Tymoshenko, Yulia Tymoshenko’s husband who is now based in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Monday called Pshonka’s latest allegations a “complete madness.” The allegations “show that the authorities exhausted all sorts of evidence in other cases and they are absolutely on the verge of complete madness.” “All reasonable, objective people realize that Tymoshenko had nothing to do with the murder of Shcherban,” Oleksandr Tymoshenko said. "I appeal to all honest people - do not believe a word of this dull elite and occupiers in the government!” Oleksandr Tymoshenko said. “Fight for your future. Yulia Tymoshenko has defended you - it's time to defend her. Do not be ignorant. Tomorrow they will come to you."