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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ukraine’s Tymoshenko May Face High Treason Charges

RIA Novosti

18:10 14/03/2012

KIEV, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko may see her prison term extended to up to 15 years if an investigation proves that she committed high treason by pushing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia, Ukrainian media reported on Wednesday.

A special parliamentary commission investigating the circumstances in which the deal between Ukraine’s energy company Naftogaz and Russia’s Gazprom was signed has obtained a document “confirming the fact that Tymoshenko was personally interested in signing the gas contracts [that were] non-beneficial for Ukraine,” the commission’s head, lawmaker Inna Bogoslavskaya, was quoted by the Kommersant Ukraina newspaper as saying.

The 22-page document, which Bogoslavskaya said was provided to the commission by the Ukrainian Security Service, contained a ruling by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to close a 2001 criminal case against Tymoshenko in which she was accused of bribing Russian Defense Ministry officials while she headed Ukraine's main gas distributor, the now-defunct United Energy Systems (UES).

Russian prosecutors dropped the case in 2005, citing the expired statute of limitations. However, last year their Ukrainian colleagues launched their own investigation against Tymoshenko, accusing her of misappropriating over $400 million from the government’s budget to pay off a debt owed to Russia by UES.

Bogoslavskaya was quoted by Kommersant as saying the parliamentary commission had “managed to prove” that Tymoshenko “acted illegally and pursued her own interests while signing the [2009] agreements” with Gazprom. The commission believes that Tymoshenko had to sign the non-beneficial deal because she was “directly dependent on the Russian side as a result of the existing debt and a criminal case in which she has been found guilty,” she added.

The ex-premier is already serving a 7-year prison term on charges of abusing her office by pushing through the 2009 contract with Gazprom. The Ukrainian authorities say the deal has caused multi-billion-dollar damage to the country's economy and are pushing Moscow to review the agreement.

Tymoshenko has denied any wrongdoing, accusing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych of orchestrating the charges to get rid of a rival.

Bogoslavskaya said, however, that it was up to law enforcement agencies to establish whether Tymoshenko’s actions could be considered high treason.

“Our commission is unable to classify this as an act of high treason – we don’t have enough tools to prove this fact,” the lawmaker said, adding: “In line with Ukrainian laws, in order to establish this, you need to prove that this was a deliberate attempt to damage the country’s economy.”

The commission plans to present its final report to the parliament on March 16.

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