Court gives Timoshenko’s new lawyer 2 days to study her case

KIEV, August 1 (Itar-Tass) — Kiev’s Pechersky Court presiding judge Rodion Kireyev gave former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party leader Yulia Timoshenko’s new lawyer, Yuri Sukhov, two days to study her case until 11:00 August 4.

The court questioned former Minister of Education and Science Ivan Vakarchuk, who had worked in the Timoshenko government, and former Minister of Transport and Communications Iosif Vinsky, who said that the ex-premier’s actions were caused by an imperfect political system in Ukraine.

The court was questioning former Defence Minister Yuri Yekhanurov for more than five hours. Most of the questions were asked by Timoshenko herself and her lawyer Sukhov and their questions concerned mainly the operations of the company RosUkrEnergo.

Timoshenko claimed that this company’s appearance in the market had led to the gas crisis in 2009.

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

Earlier the court questioned former Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Prodan, who said that Timoshenko had not tried to pass his directives for gas talks with Russia for the government’s decision.

“I took this as an instruction from the prime minister, subject to execution. There was no practice of getting directives approved by the government,” he said.

According to Prodan, the talks in 2009 had produced the best possible price for gas, and the government could not raise tariffs for the transit of Russian natural gas because Russia insisted the rates were fixed until 2011.

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.

Judge Rodion Kireyev earlier rejected lawyers’ request to drop the criminal charges against Timoshenko.

“Considering the ungrounded nature of the appeal, the court ruled to dismiss it. The ruling is not to be appealed,” the judge said.

At the insistence of the prosecution, Internet printouts, in which “the defendant allows herself to make insulting remarks with regard to the court”, were included in the case.

Timoshenko’s former lawyer Sergei Vlasenko recalled in this connection that “Ukraine is an independent state, and the Constitution allows every person to express his views wherever he sees fit.”

In his opinion, “The Internet materials included in the case have no relation to the charges.”

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.

Onwe 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).

Kiev’s district court has confirmed the legitimacy of the criminal case against Timoshenko over gas contracts with Russia made in 2009.

The court rejected Timoshenko’s appeal questioning the legitimacy of the criminal case and confirmed that the Prosecutor General’s Office had acted lawfully by brining criminal charges against her.

Timoshenko was notified on April 13 of a new criminal case opened against her for the gas agreements she had made with Russia in 2009.

Kuzmin said prior to that that new charges of abuse of office when making natural gas supply contracts in 2009 had been brought against Timoshenko.

“The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has opened a criminal case against the ex-premier for abuse of office when making gas contracts in 2009,” he said.

Earlier, the Prosecutor General’s Office opened two criminal cases against Timoshenko and later combined then into one.

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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