Ukrainian minister gives evidence of almost $3 bln damage done by Timoshenko

KIEV, August 16 (Itar-Tass) —— The aggregate losses of Neftegaz Ukrainy in 2009 stood at 22.47 billion hryvni ($2.8 billion), according to an ErnstYoung audit report Ukrainian Energy and Mining Minister Yuri Boiko presented at the Tuesday court hearing of the Yulia Timoshenko case.

Timoshenko said earlier that Neftegaz was a loss-making company in the period before her premiership and showed profit in 2009 when she headed the Ukrainian government.

The court refused to adduce the evidence to the Timoshenko case.

The next hearing is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Moscow time on August 17. It is planned to question as witnesses ex-president Viktor Yushchenko and ex-presidential representative for international energy cooperation Bogdan Sokolovsky.

The court said that Yushchenko would be forced to attend the August 17 session. He will be fined at 500 hryvni (over $60) for not attending the court meeting on Tuesday.

The ex-premier and Batkivshchyna party leader, Timoshenko, is accused of the illegal signing of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that Timoshenko abused of office and caused more than 1.5 billion hryvni (about $200 million) damage to Ukraine.

Ukraine cannot secede from gas agreements with Russia signed by Yulia Timoshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told the court, as he was giving testimony in the Timoshenko case.

“When I read that agreement I could not believe it had been approved by the government. The terms of that document make unilateral secession practically impossible,” he said.

The penalty for taking less gas than contracted “is harmful for the national economy,” and the pricing formula set for the period of ten years is unprofitable, Azarov said.

“The agreement betrayed the country and caused an increase of public utility charges,” he concluded.

The Russia-Ukraine gas deal 2009 strictly complies with national laws, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday in comment on Timoshenko’s arrest.

“Bearing in mind the decision of the Kiev Pechersky District Court to arrest Yulia Timoshenko who is accused by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office of exceeding her authority in the signing of contracts on Russian gas supply in 2009, the Russian Foreign Ministry states the following: all the gas agreements of 2009 were signed in strict compliance with the national laws of both states and international laws and their signing was preceded by instructions from the presidents of Russia and Ukraine,” the ministry said.

The trial of Timoshenko “must be fair and unbiased, meet every provision of Ukrainian laws and provide appropriate defense and compliance with elementary humanitarian norms and rules,” the ministry said.

Prosecutor Lilia Frolova insisted on the arrest of Timoshenko. She said the defendant was impeding court procedures.

“The judge said many times that it was necessary for the defendant to abide by the court procedures. She did not react to criticism but abused her rights and verbally insulted parties to the trial and the presiding judge. That is a ground for incarceration,” the prosecutor said.

The court considered a similar demand of the prosecutor on July 27 but said it was still possible to change the behavior of Timoshenko.

As soon as Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev made the decision, two Spetsnaz units entered the courtroom to block parliament deputies seeking access to Timoshenko. The units convoyed her out of the room. Timoshenko asked for not being handcuffed and the police met her request.

A city police source said later that Timoshenko was taken to the Lukyanovskoye detention center. Lawyer Yuri Sukhov visited the detention center to bring personal care items and bed linen to Timoshenko.

She was also visited by Parliamentary Human Rights Ombudsman Anatoly Paliy on Sunday. The ombudsman said that Timoshenko was lively and had no complaints about custody conditions.

Timoshenko’s husband and lawyers visited her in custody last Tuesday. They had a three-hour meeting.

Signatures are being collected to the demand for the release of Timoshenko near the Kiev Pechersky District Court edifice on Kreshchatik. The demand will be addressed to President Viktor Yanukovich and Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka.

“We demand an end to political repressions and the release of Timoshenko from custody,” the demand runs.

President Yanukovich has nothing to do with the arrest of Timoshenko and does not interfere in the activity of the judiciary, presidential press secretary Darya Chepak said a week ago.

“The president said many times that his administration had nothing to do with the [Timoshenko] trial and had no right to interfere in the activity of the judiciary by constitution,” she said.

Following the arrest of its leader, the Batkivshchyna party called for mass protests. “We are starting mobilization,” the party’s second in command Alexander Turchinov said.

If the protests turn massive, Ukraine may have new authorities already in September, he said. “We have plenty of sympathizers, but few are prepared to fight. We start our fight today,” he added.

Many public figures, clerics, academicians and artists asked the court to release Timoshenko from custody on their guarantee. Yet their appeals were not met.


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