Kiev court refuses to give Timoshenko extra time to prepare for testimony

KIEV, August 22 (Itar-Tass) —— Kiev’s Pechersky District Court refused to give ex-Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko extra time to prepare for testifying in court.

Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev said on Monday, August 22, that the court had already given Timoshenko additional time for this purpose before.

Prior to that Kireyev asked Timoshenko whether she was ready to testify. “Because I had no opportunity to prepare I am not ready to testify,” she replied.

The judge then decided to change the procedure for examining evidence in court and ruled to examine documents in the case files in the first place, allow petitions related to these documents, summoning of witnesses and additional examinations. After that the court will allow Timoshenko to testify again.

Kireyev also said that Timoshenko’s lawyers’ request for letting her out of prison would be considered at the end of the court session on August 22/

He earlier turned down appeals for releasing Timoshenko several times and refused to replace arrest with recognizance not to leave Kiev or to let her go on bail against guarantees of prominent scientists, cultural figures and the clergy, including representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Ombudsman Nina Karpacheva and opposition MPs.

The former prime minister has been held in an investigation prison since August 5.

Kireyev also rejected lawyers’ request to drop the criminal charges against Timoshenko.

Her defence submitted a petition requesting that a new lawyer, Nikolai Sery, as well as her husband and daughter be allowed to participate in the hearings. The judge upheld the request and adjourned until August 10.

Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko was questioned in court for about three hours. He believes that Timoshenko had no right to issue directives for talks between Naftogaz Ukrainy and Russia’s Gazprom without the consent of the government.

“When it comes to vital needs and interests of the state, the prime minister cannot make decisions alone without collegiate approval as legislation requires,” Grishchenko said.

Timoshenko is facing charges of abuse of office while making gas agreements with Russia in 2009.

The prosecution has accused Timoshenko of acting in excess of his powers and giving directives for signing a gas contract with Russia in 2009 without the government’s consent. As a result, gas prices in Ukraine increased, but the tariff for transit, pegged to the price of gas, did not change, which caused damage to the budget in the amount of about 200 million U.S. dollars.

The criminal case was opened against Timoshenko for the gas contracts in accordance with part 3 of Article 365 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, which gives the maximum punishment of seven to ten years in prison.

In this case Timoshenko will not be able to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2012 or the presidential election in 2015.

Three criminal cases have been opened against Timoshenko and she has given a written pledge not to leave Kiev.

One concerns the use of part of proceeds from the sale of greenhouse gas quotas, which were intended for certain purposes, for financing national budget expenditures. A total of 380 million euros were misused.

Another criminal case concerns the purchase, against the government’s guarantees, and import into Ukraine of allegedly specialised Opel Combo ambulances. The damage from this transaction is estimated at 67 million hryvnia (over eight million U.S. dollars).

Timoshenko has been charged with misuse of 380 million euros received by Ukraine under the Kyoto Protocol. She may face a prison term of five to ten years. She has been asked to give a written pledge not to leave the city.

Timoshenko claims that the money was used to pay pensions.

On December 20, 2010, the Prosecutor General’s Office said that as prime minister Timoshenko, “acting deliberately and driven by her personal interests,” made the decision to “use a part of the proceeds from the sale of greenhouse emission quotas intended for stated purposes for financing Ukraine’s national budget expenses, primarily pension obligations.”

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, Timoshenko’s decision resulted in a loss of 960,000 hryvnia (121,000 U.S. dollars) in the national budget.

Timoshenko denied the misuse of the funds.


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