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Ukraine's ex-interior minister transferred to regular prison

RIA Novosti

16:03 28/12/2010

KIEV, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who was arrested for abuse of office last weekend, has been transferred to one of the country's oldest prisons, Ombudswoman Nina Karpachyova said on Tuesday.

Lutsenko was arrested by Ukraine's security service, SBU, on Sunday after prosecutors charged him with abuse of office while investigating the poisoning of former president Viktor Yushchenko.

The Pechyorsky Court of Kiev sanctioned the arrest on Monday, following complaints by Lutsenko that he had been arrested illegally.

Karpachyova told Ukraine's parliament Lutsenko had been transferred to the Lukyanovskoye pre-trial detention center from an SBU prison.

Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and leader of the Orange revolution that brought Yushchenko to power in 2004, spent 42 days in Lukyanovskoye on embezzlement charges in 2001.

Lutsenko faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

Yushchenko was poisoned in the run-up to Ukraine's presidential election in 2004. The poison, TCDD - the most harmful known dioxin - badly disfigured his face, leaving him looking weak, bloated and years older.

Yushchenko accused Russia of "attempted murder," but it has denied any involvement.

Lutsenko's case is the latest in a crackdown on senior members of the country's previous government since President Viktor Yanukovych took power in February.

Earlier this month, Tymoshenko was charged with misusing $425 million of public funds while in office. She has rejected the accusation, saying she is being targeted for challenging Yanukovych.