Ukraine President Threatens To 'Bury' Corrupt Officials

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich on Friday threatened to "bury" corrupt officials and to "rip off" their heads, in comments to an economic forum in Kiev.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich.

"If you prevent the development of businesses and the economy, if you push for bribes ... and if you get caught, your head will be ripped off," said the president, the Interfax agency reported.

"I'm not kidding.

"We are making it quite clear: in two days, extortion of funds has to stop taking place.

"If, after that, someone is caught red-handed, he won't get away, we'll bury him."

Yanukovich promised a merciless fight against corruption, evoking his experience fighting the problem during his time as governor of his native Donetsk region, in the east of the country, between 1997 and 2002.

Yanukovich's comments Friday went further than remarks he made in April when he acknowledged the systemic nature of corruption in Ukraine.

Businessmen have repeatedly complained of the problem in their domain, arguing that it is one of the main obstacles to the country's economic development.

Several businessmen have even claimed that the situation has got worse since Yanukovich was elected in February 2010.

Since coming to office, he has started legal proceedings against several senior officials in the previous administration now in opposition, who have for their part denounced the moves against them as politically motivated.

Last week, Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko went on trial on charges of abuse of power.

In court, she denounced the trial as a "farce and a circus" saying it had been politically motivated.

Both the United States and the European Union have also expressed reservations about the trial.

Source: AFP