Timoshenko tells European mass media she fears for her life in prison

LONDON, August 13 (Itar-Tass) —— Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party leader Yulia Timoshenko told Euobserver that she was fearing for her life in Ukrainian prison.

“Of course I do. I am aware of the Stalinist saying that you get rid of the man, you get rid of the problem. There have been too many ‘accidents’ in the past,” Timoshenko said in a written statement sent to Euobserver when asked if she feared for her personal safety in prison.

She also told the website that she did not recognise the legitimacy of this court. “This is a show trial where the verdict has been written in advance,” Timoshenko said.

The statement was sent to Euobserver on Friday, August 12, before a session of Kiev’s Court of Appeals that rejected her lawyers’ petition for bail.

Earlier, Kiev’s Pechersky District Court rejected lawyers’ appeal for letting their defendant in exchange for her written pledge to stay in town.

Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev said his ruling was final and not subject to appeal.

He referred to the absence of reasons for overruling the previous court judgment and adjourned the hearings till 11:00 Moscow time August 11.

Timoshenko’s lawyer also demanded recusal of prosecutors Lilia Frolova and Alexander Mikitenko.

“There must be a fair procedure during the trial, but there is none,” he said before court hearings on August 10.

The courtroom was full. MPs, scientists, cultural figures and Orthodox Church clerics came to support the former prime minister. Foreign diplomats, including U.S., Spanish, Lithuanian and British Embassy officials, were present.

The press service of the Batkivshchina party said more than 10,000 signatures had been collected in support for a petition for changing the measure of restraint for Timoshenko from arrest to recognizance not to live Kiev.

Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev earlier turned down the lawyers’ appeal for replacing arrest with recognizance not to leave Kiev and refused to bail her out against guarantees of prominent scientists, cultural figures and the clergy, including representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Ombudsman Nina Karpacheva and opposition MPs.

Timoshenko’s lawyer said, “This is not the last appeal and there will be a new series of petitions”.

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

Kireyev earlier 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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