Police Say Yanukovych Fails to Appear for Questioning

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian police said May 30 that former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych had failed to appear for questioning in connection with alleged mishandling of government funds, but Yanukovych's camp said he had not received a proper summons.

Yanukovych was summoned last week to testify as a witness about alleged illegal government donations amounting to some 4.8 million hryvnas ($950,000, 740,000 euros) for the overhaul of the airport in his eastern Ukrainian hometown, Donetsk.

"Yanukovych was summoned through media, including news agencies and all TV channels," said Valeriy Geletey, a police official. "We are waiting for an explanation."

Vyacheslav Chornovyl, a key Yanukovych ally, said Yanukovych had refused to appear before the investigators because "he and his lawyer did not receive a proper subpoena."

"The police move was a clear violation of Ukrainian laws. When and if he receives a proper subpoena he will testify," Chornovyl said.

Yanukovych's Party of Regions accused police of persecuting the government's political opponents.

"The authorities want to present the opposition as the people's enemy, and they are using the Internet and TV to summon opposition leaders for questioning," the statement said.

Olena Lukash, a Kyiv-based legal expert, described the police move as "abuse of power and apparent legal illiteracy of law enforcement bodies."

"Authorities can summon someone only through a subpoena and the ways and means of delivering it (the subpoena) are clearly defined by law," she said.

Yanukovych lost a bitterly-contested presidential election last year after the Supreme Court annulled his victory on grounds of massive fraud and ordered a revote that was won by pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian prosecutors questioned Yanukovych over the business dealings of Boris Kolesnikov, a jailed regional official, but no charges were brought.

Yanukovych and Viktor Medvedchuk, a former chief of staff of ex-President Leonid Kuchma, were also summoned to appear as witnesses in a land misappropriation case on June 1 before investigators in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk.

Yushchenko has pledged to root out corruption and alleged government links with organized crime that plagued Kuchma's decade-long rule.

Yushchenko has pointed to the pro-Russian Donetsk region, where hostility to him runs highest, as a stronghold of organized crime and corruption.

Source: Kyiv Post