KIEV, August 18 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko asked the court to postpone her next questioning till August 22 and thus give her time to prepare for it.
“For the time being I am not prepared to testify and request time, at least two days, to prepare. I will testify on Monday,” Timoshenko said at Kiev’s Pechersky Court on Wednesday, August 17.
The court does not work on weekends.
However Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev regarded Timoshenko’s request was her refusal to testify and adjourned the hearings till 15:00 Moscow time, Thursday, August 18.
He earlier refused to free Timoshenko and decided to bring former presidential envoy for energy affairs Bogdan Sokolovsky to court by force for testimony.
He recalled that Sokolovksy had been repeatedly summoned to court but on the day of hearings submitted a written statement, in which he refused to testify.
The prosecution had no objections against bringing Sokolovsky to court, but Timoshenko’s lawyer Yuri Sukhov warned against doing so.
“His rights and obligations should be explained to him. He is a well-known person, and I think it would be abnormal if he were brought to court in shackles,” he said.
The prosecution also insists that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko should be questioned in court in the Timoshenko case.
“I think he [Yushchenko] should be summoned to court,” Prosecutor Lilia Frolova said.
She said she was not aware that Yushchenko had refused to testify in court.
Asked whether Yushchenko can be brought to court by force, Frolova said this issue would be put up for discussion and “if a witness refuses to report without valid reason, the court has the right to bring such witness by force”.
Earlier, Yushchenko’s Press Secretary Irina Vannikova said earlier that the ex-president was on a vacation and would be back to Ukraine after August 15.
Kireyev 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.