Sunday

21st Jul 2019

Ukraine ignores EU outcry, opens second case against Tymoshenko

  • Gas pipe in Tymoshenko's home town of Dnipropetrovsk. Vydrin: 'Ukraine's pipeline network is used to import political corruption, not gas' (Photo: gTarded)

Ukraine has filed a second case against former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko that could see her jailed for 12 years and forced to pay $405 million, despite an EU outcry against her first sentence for seven years and a $188 million fine.

The state security service, the SBU, said on Thursday (13 October) it has launched the proceedings over an alleged embezzlement dating back to 1997 when Tymoshenko's old company, United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), supplied Russian gas to Ukrainian factories.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Her lawyer, Yuriy Sukhov, told EUobserver last week, amid rumours the second case was coming, the charges are "absurd" because the $405 million debt to Russia is owed by the defunct UESU, not by Tymoshenko personally.

One of her MPs, Sergiy Pashinskyi, said the case is invalid because the time lag exceeds Ukraine's statute of limitations. He added that stories of Tymoshenko's vast wealth are untrue and that family and friends are helping pay her legal costs.

The SBU case will fuel the fire of EU criticism that President Viktor Yanukovych is abusing the law in order to destroy his main political rival ahead of next year's elections.

SBU chief, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, is a political ally of Yanukovych and is said to nurture ambitions of becoming finance minister. The SBU itself is supposed to monitor threats to national security instead of investigating financial crimes. Its black-leather-jacket-clad officers also spend time threatening and trying to bribe independent journalists.

Meanwhile, Russia is playing a double game.

The SBU says Russia in June asked Ukraine to pay back the $405 million. But Moscow's official line is that, while Tymoshenko is liable for the debt, they are willing to let it slide for the sake of good neighbourly relations. The Russian position is designed to make both Tymoshenko and Yanukovych look like crooks in a bid to discourage the EU from building closer ties with the country.

The new corruption case could open a pandora's box of allegations strengthening Russia's line that Ukraine is not fit to finalise an EU trade and political association treaty this year.

Pashinskyi last week already threatened to file a criminal case on unspecified charges against Yanukovych if he went ahead with the $405 million prosecution. Yanukovych's prime minister, Mykola Azarov, his energy minister Yuriy Boyko and one of his chief financial sponsors, oligarch Dmitry Firtash, could also become targets for legal counter attacks.

The EU ambassador in Ukraine, Jose Manuel Pinto-Texeira, at a business fair in Yalta last week said abuse of power has become worse since Yanukovych took up office: "Corruption is the result of everything else, a symptom of the problem ... Over the last year and a half there has been a trend in Ukraine, several developments, that indicate a deterioration in pluralism of democracy."

EUobserver understands British and US companies have submitted a list to top EU officials of some 50 cases of 'corporate raiding' under Yanukovych - a practice in which firms linked to regime members seize majority shareholdings in Ukrainian companies funded by Western investors. Some of the cases name ministers in the Yanukovych cabinet.

For his part, Dmytro Vydrin, a former Tymoshenko MP-turned Yanukovych advisor, told this website "nothing has changed" in terms of corruption under the current administration.

Vydrin said businessmen still bring suitcases full of US dollars to parliament to buy favours. MPs themselves have to pay up to $5 million to political parties to buy income-generating seats in the Verkhovna Rada. "When fights break out in parliament, some MPs' guns fall out on the floor, but they use parliamentary immunity to avoid punishment," he noted.

Opinion

Ukraine-EU momentum should not be wasted

With emotions running high over the Tymoshenko verdict, it would be a strategic mistake and a betrayal of the pro-European aspirations of millions of Ukrainians to halt the association process, writes Kostiantyn Yelisieiev.

EU-Ukraine meeting increasingly unlikely

The Ukrainian government has said there is no chance former prime minister Tymoshenko will go free before a planned visit to Brussels by President Yanukovych on Thursday.

Russia and Ukraine make nice after EU snub

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has told Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych he can jail his political rivals as far as Moscow is concerned, after the EU made him persona non grata.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  2. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  3. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  4. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  5. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  6. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  7. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  8. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us