Ukraine charges Tymoshenko with tax fraud

Former prime minister, who was jailed last month, also charged with theft and concealing foreign currency revenues.

     The EU says it may not sign bilateral deals on political association and trade if Tymoshenko remains jailed [Reuters]

    Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office last month, has been charged with tax evasion, theft and concealing foreign currency revenues.

    The new charges, announced by the the State Tax Administration, indicate that she is less likely to go free in the near future despite calls from the West for her release, keeping Ukraine's ties with the European Union strained.

    Friday's charges are linked to her activities as head of gas trading firm United Energy Systems of Ukraine, a post she held in the 1990s, an administration statement said.

    Tymoshenko's lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko dismissed the charges as "baseless".

    The fifty year old was found guilty on October 11 of abusing her powers as prime minister in 2009, when she forced through a gas supply deal between Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom. 

    'Political vendetta'

    Tymoshenko has denied all charges against her and said her trial reflected a political vendetta waged by President Viktor Yanukovich, who narrowly beat her in the former Soviet republic's 2010 presidential election. 

    Echoing her position, the European Union has warned Ukraine it may not sign bilateral deals on political association and free trade if Tymoshenko remains in jail. 

    There is a possibility her conviction will be overturned by an appeals court or reclassified as a non-felony by parliament. 

    However, state prosecutors have said they could launch more cases against Tymoshenko and were studying her possible involvement in a 1996 contract killing of a parliament deputy, which her supporters have denied. 

    Supporters of Tymoshenko say her health is deteriorating as she has been in a detention centre since early August and now has trouble walking. 

    A member of a state-appointed medical team, tasked with assessing Tymoshenko's health, said on Friday that she had been told to stay in bed, but a diagnosis of her illness had not yet been established, according to the Interfax news agency. 

    Tymoshenko was a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution which doomed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency.

    She served twice as prime minister before losing the 2010 election to Yanukovich in a bitterly fought run-off. 

    Her supporters say he is seeking to extinguish her as a political force before a parliamentary election next October. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'Just another Indian': Surviving Canada's residential schools

    'Just another Indian': Surviving Canada's residential schools

    A survivor of schools that took Indigenous children from their families shares her story of abuse, neglect and healing.

    'Butchered': The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans

    'Butchered': The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans

    Kenya banned FGM in 2011, but Europeans still bring their daughters to underground clinics there to be cut.

    What it means to love a dead child

    What it means to love a dead child

    You must forget all you thought you knew about grief when the landscape of your life has been demolished.