Tymoshenko Plans Suits Against President

KIEV, Ukraine -- Jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko plans a barrage of lawsuits against President Viktor Yanukovych in international courts following his recent remarks linking her to a contract murder 16 years ago.

Ms Tymoshenko shows bruises she claimed to have received in an attack by guards in the prison where she was being held.

The jailing of Tymoshenko for abuse of power, and ongoing new investigations, are widely perceived as political prosecutions and have damaged Yanukovych’s relations with the West.

He repeatedly denied any involvement and said the issue is a legal matter that must be decided by courts.

But in a recent interview with Bloomberg, Yanukovych accused Tymoshenko of “violations and crimes” that had been “carried out with [her] participation.”

These, Yanukovych said, included the murder of Yevhen Shcherban, a lawmaker, who was killed under the hail of bullets in a Donetsk airport in 1996.

“There were motives,” Yanukovych said.

The comment, which names Tymoshenko guilty even before a trial, has raised a political storm in Ukraine.

Opposition lawmakers said the remark was a direct proof of political prosecution.

But what may have far reaching consequences, the interview with the international news agency, which has 192 bureaus and offices worldwide, opens a unique opportunity for Tymoshenko to attack Yanukovych with a barrage of lawsuits throughout the world.

Tymoshenko, who has long insisted that Ukrainian courts are corrupt and controlled by the presidential administration, has persistently tried to shift the legal battle overseas.

Now, she plans to use that chance.

“Yulia Volodymyrivna is grateful to Viktor Yanukovych for the fact that he has honestly admitted to the entire world of who has ordered the political repressions against Yulia Tymoshenko,” Serhiy Vlasenko, her lawyer, told said on Monday.

Yanukovych “called her guilty without a trial, and even without an investigation,” Vlasenko said.

“He shouted this out loud to the entire world.”

Vlasenko said that Tymoshenko, beginning on Monday, begins to assemble an international team of lawyers that will launch the lawsuits against Yanukovych across the world.

Tymoshenko’s party, Batkivshchyna, last week accused Yanukovych of acting with the impunity of a dictator.

"This is a new step in the evolution of a dictator. Yanukovych has assumed the functions of the investigation and the courts. The next step will be for Yanukovych to play a direct role in interrogating Yulia Tymoshenko and torturing her," the party said.

Last month, general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka said Tymoshenko was being treated as a material witness in the Shcherban case and investigators were trawling through evidence in the case, including new testimony from the dead man's son.

Ruslan Shcherban was 19 at the time and survived the attack, but he has said recently he has evidence implicating Tymoshenko.

An appeal by Tymoshenko against her conviction for abuse-of-office is due to be heard on June 26 in Kiev.

The day before, a court in Kharkiv, where she is serving her sentence, is due to resume hearing another charge against her of tax evasion and embezzlement.

Source: Ukrainian Journal