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Yushchenko Faces Probe over Role in Tymoshenko Case

RIA Novosti

17:03 05/04/2012 KIEV, April 5 (RIA Novosti) - Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko faces an investigation over his order to close a criminal case against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said on Thursday.

Pshonka said that in 2005 Yushchenko told then Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun to drop charges of financial irregularities at Ukraine’s United Energy Systems (UES) on Tymoshenko’s watch.

When Piskun told Yushchenko that the closure would be unlawful, Yushchenko threatened to fire him, Pshonka said, adding that Piskun would be ready to testify in court.

“Yushchenko and Piskun may be questioned over the closure of the case - that is up to investigators to decide,” Pshonka said.

He also said Ukraine is to pay Russia $405.5 million over financial irregularities at UES.

Earlier in the day the prosecutor general said Tymoshenko will be questioned over the 1996 murder of a businessman. The Prosecutor General’s Office reopened the murder case following new evidence provided by the son of slain businessman Yevhen Shcherban, pointing to Tymoshenko’s involvement.

Shcherban’s son also alleged his father’s murder was paid for by firms affiliated with Tymoshenko.

In October 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of office, for exceeding her authority in signing a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Her trial was condemned by both the European Union and Russia as politically motivated.

She is currently serving her sentence in a women’s prison near Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkov.

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