By Pearl Rimon
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
KIEV, Ukraine — Viktor Yanukovich, the President of Ukraine has linked political rival Yulia Tymoshenko to a 16 year old murder. Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister, has been imprisoned since October for alleged abuse of office charges.
Tymoshenko was convicted on charges alleging that she abused her authority in 2009 in a natural gas deal with Gazprom, a Russian energy company. Her appeal for this conviction is scheduled for June 26. She also faces a separate charge for tax evasion and embezzlement for June 25.
Yanukovich’s latest accusations add on to the current scrutiny he is under by other European officials. Western European governments have chosen to boycott the 2012 Eurocup soccer matches, which are being jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s conviction is claimed to be politically motivated by other European officials, which is why they have boycotted the matches.
Stefan Fule, European commissioner for enlargement believes that the charges and conviction are due to acts of selective justice, “They were not conducted according to international standards. There was no impartiality of judges and there was no equality of arms between prosecution and defense.”
The latest accusation against Tymoshenko by Yanukovich links her to the 16 year old contract killing case of Yevhen Shcherban. Shcherban was attacked in a hail of bullets as he left a plane in Donetsk, Ukraine. The attack also took the lives of his and several bystanders.
Current Prime Minister Mykola Azarov supports Yanukovich’s accusation. After Shcherban’s death, Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine, headed by Tymoshenko, made large profits in the local market. “So this person (Tymoshenko) is very controversial and those who want to make a symbol of a fighter for democracy out of her must first get to grips with the facts,” Azarov told Reuters in an interview.
Olexander Tymoshenko, Tymoshenko’s husband, has public accused Yanukovich for using the government to carry out a personal vendetta against his wife. “This is a new step in the evolution of dictatorship … You, Yanukovich, and your followers have delivered the verdict to the leader of unified opposition.”, said Tymoshenko.
Yulia Tymoshenko lead the 2004 Orange Revolution which halted Yaunkovich’s first attempt at for the presidency. After losing the 2010 presidential election to Yanukovich, she and numerous opposition leaders faced charges for corruption.
For further information, please see:
Chicago Tribune — Tymoshenko’s husband cries foul over murder charge – 14 June 2012
United Press International — EU has eye on Tymoshenko case –14 June 2012
Chicago Tribune — Ukraine leader stirs Tymoshenko row with murder charge –13 June 2012