[JURIST] The Ukraine Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) [official website, in Ukrainian] again charged former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] Tuesday in connection with alleged corruption during her time in office. She was charged under Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine [text] with abuse of office [press release, in Ukrainian] in connection with signing gas import contracts with Russia. She was given the charges when she was brought in for questioning [BBC report] by the PGO at the state capital building in Kiev. There was a small group of Tymoshenko supporters protesting outside the building. Tymoshenko denies the charges and argues that they are politically motivated. She criticized the speed at which the case was being moved forward on her website and claimed that the PGO reversed its decision to detain her under public pressure. She said:
They behaved as if everything had been decided and they were just carrying out formalities. I don’t doubt that during the course of all this they reconsidered their desire to put me in jail only because of pressure from people, pressure from civil society, the media, deputies, and, I think, the international community. … All of this has been cynically trumped-up, without any hint of the law, because they know there is no real court, and they know that the court will sign and endorse any resolution and decision they write.
The investigators argue that the 10-year gas contract deals she signed were too high, harming the economy, and that she did not have cabinet approval to sign them.
These charges are not the first brought against Tymoshenko by the PGO. In Feburary, the PGO combined two separate criminal cases [JURIST report] against her and concluded the pre-trial investigation. The combined cases against Tymoshenko include charges initiated in December for allegedly misappropriating state funds during her time as prime minister from 2007-2010 and new charges in January alleging that she abused her authority and exceeded her official duties [JURIST reports] while in office by purchasing “1000 Opel Combo” medical vans at a 20 percent mark-up. Tymoshenko said the vans were successful in providing medical services to rural villages. The current combined case against her is not the first time she has been prosecuted. Last May, prosecutors reopened a separate criminal investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that Tymoshenko attempted to bribe Supreme Court judges. Tymoshenko’s government was dissolved in March 2010 after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian]. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election.