Andrew Osborn








Ukraine's former PM Tymoshenko hit with fresh criminal charges, 11th November 2011 12:27

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s incarcerated former prime minister, has been charged with theft, tax evasion and fraud in a new politically-tinged criminal case.   

The development, announced by Ukraine’s tax authorities on Friday, suggests that the Ukrainian  government is unwilling to free the 50-year-old opposition leader anytime soon despite growing international pressure.

Ms Tymoshenko, 50, was jailed for seven years in October for abuse of office after a trial condemned by the United States and the European Union as a sham political imitation of justice.

The former heroine of the 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution argues that she is being persecuted by President Viktor Yanukovych, the man who narrowly beat her in a 2010 presidential poll. Mr Yanukovych has strongly denied that however, and state prosecutors have insisted that Ms Tymoshenko really is guilty of a string of largely white collar crimes.

On Friday, the tax authorities said they were charging her for financial crimes she allegedly committed when she was head of a gas trading firm, United Energy Systems of Ukraine, in the 1990s. At least three other criminal investigations into her are in progress, while prosecutors have disclosed that they are also looking into her possible involvement in the 1996 contract killing of a Ukrainian MP. Ms Tymoshenko, who is reported to have sustained a serious back injury while in prison, denies all wrongdoing.