Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Case against Tymoshenko convinces no one

Some details of the Shcherban murder case with which the Ukrainian prosecutor's office intend to charge Yulia Tymoshenko with have come to light. The evidence so far presented is highly circumstantial and is based almost entirely on hearsay; there are many unanswered questions, and the evidence would probably not be deemed sufficient to bring such a case to court in most democratic countries.

If the intention of proceeding with the case is to convince western governments and observers of Tymoshenko's culpability, it will fail.

The Ukrainian prosecutor's office already has highly disreputable, if not to say laughable reputation. I posted about this in an earlier blog.

European Court of Human Rights may well be critical of the Ukrainian judicial system and its law enforcement agencies, when they present their judgements on the treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko in other cases in the next few months.

I would suggest the narrative described today by Tymoshenko of events in the Donbas region in the mid-nineties, a portion of which I've translated below, is the one generally accepted in the west.

"Yevhen Shcherban was one of five founders of ISD, [Industrial Union of Donbas], which owned hundreds of businesses illegally privatised in the 90's. Apart from Shcherban, the [other] owners of ISD were Alexander Momot, Akhat Bragin and Rinat Akhmetov. 

A fifth, shadow co-owner of the ISD corporation was a young politician - Viktor Yanukovych, who is now president of Ukraine. Shcherban was the undisputed leader of this group, and also deputy leader of the Liberal Party of Ukraine. Within a short time three owners ISD corporation  were tragically murdered. Shcherban and Momot were shot dead in Donetsk, and Akhat Bragin blown up at the Shakhtar stadium. The entire ISD corporation, then estimated to have a value of billions of U.S, dollars, was transferred to Yanukovych and Akhmetov. 

After the tragic murder of Scherban, Yanukovych could be appointed governor of Donetsk region. The leaders of the gang that killed Scherban were immediately eliminated in the Donetsk corrective penitentiary, over which current prosecutors Kuzmin and Pshonka had oversight. 

The kind of internecine criminal disputes that existed in the Donetsk region in the 90's, were not seen in any other region in Ukraine. 

Yuriy Lutsenko, when he became the Minister of the Interior  in 2005, exhumed more than 30 corpses of businessmen, judges, lawyers, investigators and others which had been liquidated in Donetsk in the 90's...Then, [president] Yushchenko ordered Lutsenko to stop digging up any more slag heaps in the Donetsk region..."

The west will not be convinced by the latest accusations against Tymoshenko. The aim of Ukrainian officials is primarily to discredit her before the Ukrainian electorate and prevent her taking an active part in Ukrainian politics ever again. Meanwhile the country's leaders' credibility abroad is plummeting to ever lower depths.

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