KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration is starting his anti-corruption campaign by going after a familiar foe: former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his defeated rival in the Feb. 7 presidential election.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko shows journalists a summons for a May 17 meeting with investigators. Prosecutors on May 12 reopened a criminal case against her that had been closed for lack of evidence in 2005 into whether she bribed Supreme Court judges. She says President Viktor Yanukovych is attempting to silence her as a critic of the administration.

On May 11, Deputy Prime Minister Volodymr Sivkovych accused Tymoshenko of misuing more than $12 billion (Hr 100 billion) of government funds when she was premier in 2008 and 2009.

Neither he nor other officials who pointed to alleged abuses backed up their allegations with facts or explanation about why they, not state prosecutors, decided to go public with the accusations.

If true, the scale of the alleged corruption is astounding, considering that expenditures for this year's budget stand at about $40 billion. State prosecutors, meanwhile, also reopened a criminal investigation closed in 2005 against Tymoshenko into allegations that she bribed judges.

The administration, moreover, hired three high-priced American firms – law groups Trout Cacheris and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, along with private detective firm Kroll – to conduct an extensive probe of state finances.

A 2001 investigation conducted in Ukraine by Kroll into former President Leonid Kuchma's alleged complicity in the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze was viewed as not credible by Ukrainian investigative journalists and Gongadze's wife.

They viewed the probe, which was bankrolled by Kuchma's billionaire son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, as an attempt to whitewash allegations against the former president.

To many people, including the prime target of the current investigation, the administration’s actions smack of the start of a wide-ranging crackdown on political dissent rather than a genuine anti-corruption campaign.

The administration’s moves come as journalists report a return to Kuchma-style attempts to dictate favorable TV news coverage. And these events are taking place amid accusations from numerous independent sources that police acted to stifle turnout at a mass opposition rally outside parliament on May 11 by shutting down public transportation routes to Kyiv that morning.

Tymoshenko spoke at the peaceful rally attended by 2,000 people and hundreds of helmeted, armed police officers. She is trying to mount national opposition to what she calls a far-ranging sellout of Ukrainian national interests and industries to Russia and to wealthy Ukrainian oligarchs.

Many of those Ukrainian tycoons got rich under Kuchma’s corrupt and authoritarian rule, from 1994 to 2004, and have since transferred their political and financial backing to Yanukovych, inaugurated on Feb. 25 to succeed Viktor Yushchenko.

Opposition to Yanukovych has started galvanizing over his April 21 agreement, ratified in a raucous parliamentary session on April 27, to let Russia keep its centuries-old Black Sea naval fleet in Crimea until at least 2042. Critics consider the deal as an unconstitutional assault on national sovereignty and a betrayal of national interests.

Tymoshenko was summoned for an interview with prosecutors on May 12. Speaking to journalists later, she said: “They are all saying in the prosecutor’s office that Yanukovych personally instructed them to find any pretext to put me in jail in the next three to four months.”

She added that prosecutors ordered her to return for interrogation on May 17, the first day of Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev’s first official trip to Kyiv, when more bilateral agreements will be signed.

“It’s obvious to me that today our political team is the only obstacle to the shadow privatization of state monopolies, which provide our state’s strength and competitive edge,” Tymoshenko said.

“We want to stop Ukraine from being deprived of its key state monopolies in the production and transport of oil, gas, hydro and nuclear energy, and aviation. I will do everything I can, despite the criminal case, to prevent this tragic sequence of events for Ukraine.”

Tymoshenko also criticized the pro-Yanukovych coalition's cancelling of local elections scheduled for May, and the adoption of far-reaching agreements with Russia without public discussion as more signs of creeping authoritarianism.

The Yanukovych administration denied playing politics with the nation’s widely distrusted and corrupt criminal justice system.

Yuriy Myroshnychenko, Yanukovych’s parliament representative, told journalists that the president wants a constructive relationship with opposition leaders in order to implement sorely needed economic reforms. “It would be incorrect to speak about Yanukovych’s personal involvement in this case. I reject [Tymoshenko’s] claim and assure you that political repression in Ukraine is impossible.”

However, Sivkovych, the deputy prime minister in charge of law enforcement, suggested a political motive to the criminal charges. He said at a news conference that Tymoshenko and her allies “will have no time to get re-elected to parliament. They will instead be thinking about how to flee the country.”

And many, in fact, see the Yanukovych moves as part of a smear campaign that fits a familiar pattern in modern history: Loud accusations are made against a public figure followed by a criminal investigation that inevitably peters out with no public account of what happened. In 19 years as an independent nation, no high government official or wealthy businessperson has been convicted on corruption charges in Ukraine.

The reopened criminal case against Tymoshenko dates back to May 2003, when she allegedly offered a Supreme Court judge $125,000 to release relatives employed by United Energy Systems of Ukraine, the now-defunct energy trading company that made her fabulously wealthy in the 1990s under the patronage of ex-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who is now serving a prison sentence after his conviction by a U.S. jury for laundering millions of dollars of ill-gotten money.

Olexiy Haran, a political science professor at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, said Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov “are attacking aggressively without taking into account the views of the opposition. They are attempting to monopolize power and, judging by recent events, are willing to use all means at their disposal, including pressuring media, to achieve their objective.”

Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Kyiv-based Penta Center for Applied Political Studies, said the charges will serve their purpose if they slow down the political opposition.

“The more time prosecutors spend interrogating Tymoshenko in Kyiv, the less time she will have to stir up trouble in the regions,” Fesenko said, noting the ease with which law enforcement authorities can “make accusations of malfeasance on state-controlled media.”

But the core of the charges, Fesenko and others said, could be true because Ukraine has no budget controls and prime ministers can shift public funds around at whim.

“It is a common practice for government to redistribute budgeted money between different spending entitlements,” Fesenko said. “The same allegations were made against Yanukovych’s government in 2005.”

That Ukraine’s public finances are corrupt – no matter who is in power – is indisputable. The 2010 Yanukovych-Azarov budget allows the prime minister and finance minister to shuffle money around almost at will, according to one analyst.

So any investigation is bound to turn up wrongdoing.

“It’s clear they will find violations from last year and many years before that,” said Kyiv economist Ildar Gazizullin. “Our budget code is constantly violated. Money is being passed from one pocket to another. State enterprises are not transparent. But there is no need to hire foreign troops to guard our borders. We have an Accounting Chamber that’s fit for the job.”

The International Centre for Policy Studies in Kyiv rates Ukraine’s budget transparency as poor, making it difficult for voters to hold their governments accountable.

Gazizullin sees pure politics in Yanukovych’s decision to hire private American firms to conduct the investigation of state finances.

“If the state hired consultants to change the system and improve the budget code, it would be great,” Gazizullin said. “Otherwise, hiring professionals with a background of scandalous cases seems politically-driven.”

The head of the presidential administration, Serhiy Lyovochkin, denied political motives in emplying the American firms. “Their task is not to catch someone red-handed, but to assess where we are at and make recommendations to avoid the same mistakes in the futre and devise the most effective anti-crisis program.”

However, Interior Minister Anatoliy Mohilev – far from apologizing for the police role in dampening turnout at the May 11 rally by rail and bus – went so far as to suggest that all political gatherings should be banned from downtown Kyiv and restricted “to a large field on the outskirts” of Kyiv.

Protesters “can gather and scream their heads off, just like they do in London’s [downtown] Hyde Park,” Mohilev was quoted by the daily Segodnya (Today) tabloid as saying on May 12.

Volodymyr Yavorskiy, executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, said such comments combined with Yanukovych’s attempts at repression are a throwback to Kuchma authoritarianism, which ended with the 2004 democratic Orange Revolution.
“It looks like we’re moving back to where we were before the Orange Revolution,” Yavorskiy said.

Source: Kyiv Post

Comments

wesley rodgers said…
CORRUPTION IS WORLDWIDE IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR!!


Ukraine is a small part of a worldwide situation!!!!
__________________________________

THIS STORY ABOUT MISS TYMOSHENKO AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO COULD BE ALLEGEDLY GUILTY OF ANY WRONGDOINGS IN FINANCE IN OR OUT OF GOVERNMENT IS A SMALL READ ABOUT A MAJOR WORLDWIDE PROBLEM.

HERE IN THE U.S. AND THE WORLDWIDE GLOBAL BANKING AND INVESTMENT COMMUNITY MANY MAJOR BANKS HAVE TAKEN THEIR CITIZENS AND OTHEFR FOREIGN INVESTORS FOR A RIDE AND IN MANY CASES IT IS THE GOVERNMENTS AND PEOPLE AT HIGH LEVEL WHO HAVE DONE PEOPLE WORLDWIDE A VERY WRONG CRIME.

EXPECT MORE DEMONSTRATIONS AND MORE
UPHEAVAL AS PEOPLE HAVE HAD ENOUGH AND IT IS PART OF A CONSPIRACY AND UPSETTING THE BALANCE OF POWER AND UNITY WORLDWIDE WHICH IT WAS MEANT TO DO BY SOME VERY POWEREFUL PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS WORLDWIDE.
MISS TYMOSHENKO,FOR WHATEVER WRONGD DOING SHE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE DODNE IS A SMALL MISTAKEN PERSON FOR ANY WRONG DOINGS COCMPARED TO MANY FOR INSTANCE INVOLVED WITH THE NEW YORK STOCK MARKET HERE IN THE U.S. WHICH HAS HAD A GREAT IMPACT ON SOME EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.

WE CAN ONLY HOPE THIS ILLEGAL SITUATION WILL BE CORRECTED IN THE NEAR FUTURE AS IT HAS VERY VERY DEEP ROOTS AND BROAD IMPLICATIONSS.

WES RODGERS newsman 007
PATRIOTSTV.COM
west-patriot@msn.com