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Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko facing new charges

The Security Service of Ukraine [official website] on Thursday brought new corruption charges [press release] against former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive], just days after she was sentenced [JURIST report] to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of power and corruption. Prosecutors allege that Tymoshenko embezzled USD $400 million of debt from her company United Energy Systems of Ukraine onto the state. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] has called the prosecution of Tymoshenko politically motivated and based on charges that are not internationally recognizable offenses [press release]. The US and several European countries have echoed AI's statements and have called the prosecution the criminalization of normal political decision-making [BBC report]. Tymoshenko repeated her hope [press release] that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] would overturn Tuesday's guilty verdict and stated her intention to appeal [press release]. In June, Tymoshenko filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the ECHR alleging violations of the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF]. The complaint argued that the charges against Tymoshenko are politically engineered by current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian], Tymoshenko's political rival.

Last week, the Ukrainian parliament [official website] rejected four amendments to the country's Criminal Code [materials] that sought to decriminalize Article 365, which stipulates jail time for abuse of office [JURIST report]. Tymoshenko's trial resumed at the end of September after a two-week recess [JURIST reports]. In August, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] testified against [JURIST report] Tymoshenko, his former prime minister. That same month, the Kiev Appeals Court refused Tymoshenko's appeal of her detention for contempt charges [JURIST reports]. Also in August, Kireyev rejected a request [JURIST report] from Tymoshenko to release her from prison. In July, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) [official website, in Ukrainian] announced that they are launching a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), an energy company at one time headed by Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko's government was dissolved in March 2010 after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Yanukovych. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election.

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