The Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) resumed questioning former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Friday in a new criminal investigation in which she is accused of attempting to embezzle $405 million, prosecutor’s office spokesperson Yury Boichenko said on Friday.
Tymoshenko, who headed Ukrainian Energy Systems in the 1990s, is suspected of attempting to embezzle money owed to Russia to pay for gas.
“The case was initiated in complete compliance with the law,” said Boichenko.
Tymoshenko was handed a seven-year sentence on Tuesday for exceeding her powers in signing a gas deal with Russia, in a separate case.
The SBU began questioning Tymoshenko on Thursday but it was suspended at her request. A representative of Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s office said that it would continue next Monday.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said it was reasonable to initiate the new case against Tymoshenko.
“Who is going to be responsible for this $405 million owed to Russia’s Defense Minister? Who is going to answer for it? Those who made the decision, who put this burden on the country,” Azarov said on Friday.
If found guilty of the new embezzlement charges, Tymoshenko could face an additional 12 years.
The European Union has expressed its concern over the new charges against Tymoshenko, saying there is a risk relations between Ukraine and the EU could worsen.
“We aren’t questioning the right to start a criminal prosecution…our concern is in the nature of the prosecution and how the trial is carried out,” Maya Kosancic, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said.
The EU will insist on adherence to international legal norms during the trial, the spokeswoman added.