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Ukraine Clears Prime Minister-Designate

    24 January 2021 Sunday

    Prosecutors said Friday they closed criminal investigations into Yulia Tymoshenko and her family shortly after she was named to become Ukraine's next prime minster.


    Tymoshenko, 44, is one of the most popular politicians in Ukraine and was a key leader of the "Orange Revolution" that swept President Viktor Yushchenko to power.

    "We are ending all proceedings because there are no elements of any wrongdoing," Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun told reporters. "One cannot live a life under investigation."

    He said prosecutors ended their eight-month inquiry into Tymoshenko's alleged attempted bribery "five or six days ago," shortly after Yushchenko named her his acting prime minister.

    In May, prosecutors accused Tymoshenko of trying to bribe a judge to end court proceedings against Antonyna Bolyra, her former associate from the now-defunct Unified Energy Systems, the country's one-time key gas distributor.

    Tymoshenko headed UES before becoming deputy prime minister in 1999. After her ouster in 2001, Tymoshenko turned fiercely against former President Leonid Kuchma and became one of the country's leading opposition figures. She has claimed that all charges against her were politically motivated.

    Yushchenko was inaugurated Sunday after winning the Dec. 26 court-ordered rerun against a candidate favoring stronger ties with Russia, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

    Prosecutors also ended their case involving Tymoshenko's husband, Oleksandr, and her father-in-law, Henadiy Tymoshenko, who were charged with fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion, Piskun said.

    Last year, Russian military prosecutors announced they wanted to press charges against Tymoshenko for alleged bribes given to Russian Defense Ministry officials in the mid-1990s. She has refused to travel to Moscow for questioning and claimed the charges were an attempt to discredit her and her support for Yushchenko.

    "Our humane court will not rule on that matter; I am not speaking about the Russian (court)," Piskun said.

    Russia's chief prosecutor said Wednesday that his office wouldn't drop the case and warned that Tymoshenko could be arrested if she enters Russia. In a recent conciliatory message, Tymoshenko said that not a "single man or a politician ... can destroy Ukraine's relations with Russia," a key trade partner and energy supplier.

    Yushchenko is expected to forward Tymoshenko's nomination for prime minister to parliament, which could consider it as early as Tuesday. She needs 226 votes in the 450-member parliament to be approved. ALEKSANDAR VASOVIC

    Associated Press


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