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Trial doubtful on Tymoshenko's misuse of funds - Ukrainian president

RIA Novosti

22:27 24/12/2010

KIEV, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on Friday he doubts ex-premier minister Yulia Tymoshenko's case of misusing state funds will reach court, but if it does, then it should be fair.

Tymoshenko was accused earlier in the week of illegally using proceeds from sales of carbon emission quotas under the Kyoto Protocol to pay pensions. Prosecutors have placed travel restrictions on Tymoshenko, preventing her from leaving Kiev without permission.

"I don't believe there will be a trial. But if there is one, then we are interested in that it be fair and that there is evidence," Yanukovych said during an interview on Ukrainian television.

Tymoshenko has also been accused of spending 100 million euros ($131 million) from government reserves to buy cars that she later used in her presidential campaign, the Prosecutor General's Office said earlier on Friday.

Ukrainian prosecutors discovered that the previous government of Tymoshenko had initiated the purchase of 1,000 Opel Combo minivans by the country's Health Ministry intended to be used as ambulances. To pay for the cars, the ministry had to take a loan under state guarantees, which cost the country an additional 43.4 million euros ($56.8 million), the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

Tymoshenko has long been at odds with the current president, Viktor Yanukovych, to whom she narrowly lost February's presidential elections. Tymoshenko was prime minister under the previous presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, but moved to opposition after her government was dissolved in March following the elections.

Tymoshenko supporters accuse the Yanukovych government of pursuing "pro-Russian" policies and betraying Ukraine's own interests and claim that a "campaign" against their leader is aimed at wiping out opposition.