Naftogaz Case A Diversion, Says Tymoshenko

KIEV, Ukraine -- A criminal case charging a former Ukrainian head of state and the director of state utility Naftogaz with abuse is a political diversion, the accused said.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Oleg Dubina, the former head of Naftogaz, were questioned by Ukrainian authorities in a case involving a 2009 natural gas deal with Russian energy company Gazprom.

Gazprom cut gas supplies to Ukraine briefly before Tymoshenko helped clinch a deal to resume supplies.

The deal put tight restrictions on Kiev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych later landed a new deal in exchange for an extended lease for the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea.

Kiev claims Tymoshenko's deal was brokered without the consent of the Cabinet.

She said the Yanukovych government is trying to bankrupt Naftogaz and take it over. The case, she claims, is an attempt to draw attention from government inadequacies.

"I think with these criminal cases they want to divert attention from major scandals that are going on now -- the unjustified increase in gas prices for households in Ukraine, skyrocketing prices for food and consumer goods and the drop in real purchasing power of pensions and wages," she said.

Tymoshenko faces separate allegations that she misused federal money meant for environmental projects to pay for pension funds during her tenure as prime minister.

Source: UPI