EU 'Concerned' Over Tymoshenko Charges

MOSCOW, Russia -- European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday expressed concern that new charges brought against Ukraine's opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko may be politically motivated.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Ukrainian prosecutors have charged Tymoshenko, President Viktor Yanukovych's main rival, with abuse of office for concluding a gas import contract with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in 2009 which they say cost the state $440 million in lost revenues.

"The EU has closely followed recent developments in the cases of Yulia Tymoshenko and other members of the former government of Ukraine," Ashton said in a statement.

"At the request of the High Representative, the EU Head of Delegation is in contact with the authorities in Kiev regarding the court decision of 23 May to detain Mrs Tymoshenko, and to express our concern at suggestions of political motivation behind these cases."

Tymoshenko was taken in for questioning at the Prosecutor General's office in Kiev on Tuesday.

"The EU will continue to underline to the Ukrainian authorities the need for respect for the rule of law, incorporating fair, impartial and independent legal processes," Ashton said.

Tymoshenko, who resigned as prime minister after her defeat at the presidential election last February, has also been charged with illegally diverting $425 million meant for environmental projects into pension funds.

She denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

Several members in Tymoshenko's former cabinet have also been charged with or investigated for corruption.

Source: RIA Novosti