Former Ukrainian PM Tymoshenko Accused of Treason

Опубликовано: 21 Март 2012

Ukraine’s parliament deepened allegations against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko when they voted on Tuesday that her 2009 negotiations on gas imports from Russia constitute treason.

Tymoshenko, the country’s opposition leader, has been serving a seven year prison sentence since October after she was found guilty of abusing her office in the 2009 gas deal with Russia.

American and European politicians have condemned the sentence as unfair and politically motivated.

The deal, negotiated after Russia shut off gas imports to Ukraine for two weeks, substantially raised the price of gas imports.  Her critics charge that she agreed to the deal because a company that she had controlled owed hundreds of millions of dollars to Russia, where she had been facing criminal charges.

Viktor Yanukovych, who narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in the 2010 elections, urged the parliament, which he controls, to approve the findings of a legislative investigation that determined that Tymoshenko’s actions “bear signs of high treason.”

“These circumstances, without a doubt, testify to a conflict of interests and significantly influenced the decision of the prime minister of Ukraine in favor of a foreign state,” said the parliament’s official decision.

Tymoshenko’s aides have denounced the decision as politically motivated.  Her lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko maintains that Tymoshenko only agreed to the gas price hike in order to end a standstill over gas prices that extended throughout Europe.  He said that although Unified Energy Systems, a company Tymoshenko led in the 1990s, had an outstanding debt to Russia of US$400 million, she had not worked in the company or owed stock in it for over ten years, and was therefore not responsible for the debt.

Tuesday’s vote comes after Ukraine’s Prosecutor General announced charges that a firm co-owned by Tymoshenko carried out a contract killing in 1996.

Tymoshenko and her supporters maintain that all the charges are an attempt to prevent her from participating in the parliamentary elections set for the fall.

Prior to entering politics Tymoshenko was an economist and academic, whose work in the energy sector made her one of the former Soviet country’s richest citizens.  She was one of the leaders of Ukraine’s pro-democracy ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2005 before being elected as Ukraine’s first female prime minister.