Court Finds Ukraine's Interior Minister Guilty Of Corruption, Fines Him About $65

KIEV, Ukraine -- A Kiev court found Ukraine's interior minister guilty of corruption on Monday, a ruling that his lawyer criticized as a "political decision." He was fined just over $65.

Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko

Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, a leading organizer of the 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests, has come under pressure since Russian-leaning Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych took over as head of government earlier this year.

The court, which fined Lutsenko 340 hryvnas ($67), ruled that he granted officer ranks illegally and gave pistols to citizens who did not have proper licenses. Svetlana Fivchuk, the spokeswoman for the ministry, said that Lutsenko plans to appeal the decision.

Earlier this month, lawmakers created a temporary parliamentary committee to investigate newspaper allegations of corruption and abuse of power and proposed suspending the popular minister for two months.

Lutsenko helped to stage the massive election fraud protests in 2004 that became known as the Orange Revolution and brought pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko to power after he defeated Yanukovych in a court-ordered revote.

After Yushchenko became president, Lutsenko spearheaded corruption investigations into some of Yanukovych's closest allies.

Yanukovych's decision to keep him on after he became premier in August following his party's success in parliamentary elections was seen as a major compromise to the president, and was met with strong opposition within Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

Lutsenko's lawyer Yuriy Bergelson accused the court of making "a political decision."

Source: AP