A Ukrainian court jailed a third member of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Cabinet as prosecutors pursue charges against the former prime minister, who’s been in prison since last year.
The Pechersk district court in the capital, Kiev, sentenced Valery Ivashchenko, a former acting Defense Minister who’s been in detention since his arrest in August 2010, to five years for abusing his power when approving the bankruptcy of a ship-building plant in the Crimea region.
“The verdict is unlawful,” Ivashchenko told reporters in remarks broadcast by the private Channel 5 TV station. “I’ve no doubt it will be overturned -- it’s just a matter of time.”
Tymoshenko, 51, was sentenced in October to seven years in prison for abuse of office when signing a 10-year natural-gas supply and transit pact with Russia in 2009. She says President Viktor Yanukovych engineered the case to prevent her from participating in parliamentary elections scheduled for October. The European Union has sought Tymoshenko’s release.
A Kiev court last week handed Heorhiy Filipchuk, an environment minister in Tymoshenko’s government, a three-year jail term for exceeding his authority. Former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko was sentenced to four years in prison in February for abuse of office.
Further charges will be filed against Tymoshenko over damages incurred by United Energy Systems, a company she used to run, prosecutors said in March. The former premier was complicit in the murder of lawmaker Yevhen Shcherban 16 years ago and may still be charged, First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin said April 6 in televised comments.