Supporters of jailed Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Monday the reopening of old criminal cases against her was motivated by “weakness” and “fear” on the part of the authorities.
Earlier on Monday, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office announced that it had reopened a criminal case on embezzlement of state funds and tax evasion charges against Ukrainian opposition leader Tymoshenko.
“This cannot be explained logically,” the deputy head of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party, Alexander Turchinov, told journalists in Kiev. He cited the “fear of Tymoshenko, the appetite for revenge, and the regime’s weakness” as the motivation behind the prosecutors’ ruling.
The former premier was sentenced to seven years in prison in mid-October for abusing her authority by pushing through a gas deal with Russia in 2009, a verdict condemned by Russia and Western powers as “politically motivated.”
In the newly reopened case, she is accused of embezzling $3.1 million in state funds and failing to pay $2.5 million worth of taxes in the 1990s, when she was the head of natural gas trading company United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU). The case was initiated in 2001 but then closed over a lack of evidence.
Turchinov stressed that the case was closed under a ruling made “during a joint session of both chambers of the Ukrainian Supreme Court in full strength.”
On October 13, Ukraine's security forces also filed a new criminal case against Tymoshenko surrounding a $405-million debt her former company owed to the Russian Defense Ministry.