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Europe

Ukraine launches fresh investigation against former prime minister

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko could face 10 years in prison. The opposition leader faces new charges of embezzlement, which she claims are the instrument of a conspiracy to boot her out of politics.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Tymoshenko could face 10 years in prison

Ukraine has launched a second criminal investigation of its previous government led by Yulia Tymoshenko, the prosecutor general announced Friday, December 24.

"They have lodged an additional charge, of embezzling 960,000 hryvnias (92,000 euros, $120,000)," Tymoshenko told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency. The former prime minister already faces a charge of abuse of power.

Tymoshenko, a current opposition leader, was charged earlier this month of misusing 320 million euros from the sale of carbon emission rights under the Kyoto Protocol.

If convicted of the charge alone, Tymoshenko faces up to 10 years in prison. She has been ordered to stay in Kiev during the investigation.

A 'political attack'

Tymoshenko, who has denied any wrongdoing, called the move a political attack by the government of President Viktor Yanukovich.

"Their goal ... is to bar me from any elections," she told reporters Friday outside the state prosecutor's office where she arrived for questioning on the first charges against her.

Tymoshenko says the original charge against her concerns 320 million euros allotted for environmental spending that had not been used.

According to the former prime minister, the funds had been transferred to cover Ukraine's massive pension deficit.

The country’s president himself said he was not sure if Tymoshenko would be brought to court.

"If in the course of the inquiry her innocence is proven, this question will no longer be on the agenda," Yanukovich told Ukrainian television, adding that, "if there is a trial, it is in our interests that it be fair."

Author: David Levitz (AFP, Reuters)

Editor: Toma Tasovac

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