Russia Closes Ukraine Ex-PM Case

KIEV, Ukraine -- Russia has dropped criminal charges against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Ms Tymoshenko had been accused of bribing Russian defence officials in the 1990s - charges she denied.

The charming Yulia Tymoshenko

But Russia's prosecutor-general's office said in a statement: "The criminal case has been closed because the statute of limitation has expired."

Russia dropped the international warrant against Ms Tymoshenko after she met prosecutors in Moscow in September.

Ms Tymoshenko has had uneasy relations with Russia, dating back to the mid-1990s when she headed Ukraine's main gas distribution company.

Orange split

However, she has apparently moved to mend fences with the Kremlin, after her sacking as prime minister in September.

Ms Tymoshenko's political bloc is seen as a top contender for parliamentary elections in March.

She hopes the poll will help her regain her job as prime minister, with much wider powers because of constitutional reforms.

Ms Tymoshenko was a key player during Ukraine's so-called Orange Revolution last year - the mass street protests that swept Viktor Yushchenko to power.

President Yushchenko's decision to fire the entire Tymoshenko cabinet officially marked a split in the Orange camp.

Source: BBC News

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