Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov must bear responsibility for the purchase of vaccine by the Health Ministry in 2009, former Ukrainian Prime Minister and leader of the Batkivschyna Party Yulia Tymoshenko has said.
"You know well that the Health Ministry was the quota of not the Batkivschyna Party. You know that the person, who is a full business partner of Azarov, was in charge of this purchase. Moreover, these trial proceedings in the United States are the personal responsibility of Azarov and his person, who then was the health minister and who is responsible for all illegal purchases - if they were illegal," she said at a briefing in parliament on Wednesday.
According to Tymoshenko, the U.S. court, if it took a ruling that vaccine was illegally purchased, then the health minister, who "worked under Azarov [and] was in charge of the purchases in the coalition government led by Azarov," must bear direct responsibility for this.
As reported, in September 2010, the state-run Ukrvaktsyna enterprise lodged a suit with a federal court in Portland (Oregon) against a U.S. company Olden Group, LLC, which is alleged to be part of an international conspiracy involving the fraudulent sale of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.
The complaint alleges that from 2008 through 2009, the U.S. company Olden Group, LLC, which is owned by offshore companies registered in Belize and the South Pacific island of Niue, played a key role in a conspiracy to unlawfully mark-up the price of millions of doses of vaccines which were intended for use by the Ukrainian public health system.
According to the complaint, Olden Group and the other conspirators used offshore shell companies to launder the cash proceeds of the scheme through banks in Latvia, the United States and elsewhere.
Renat Kuzmin, the first deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine, said in the Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday that another criminal case may be opened against Tymoshenko in connection with the purchase of vaccines during the flu epidemic in November 2009.
"The investigation into a criminal case involving schemes in the Health Ministry has been completed. If the investigator gets materials from the U.S. court in Oregon or other official materials on this matter, the criminal case against Tymoshenko related to ambulance vehicles and other abuse in the Health Ministry may be resumed. If there are enough grounds, another criminal case may be opened," Kuzmin said.
In 2009, the post of health minister in the government led by Tymoshenko was held by Vasyl Kniazevych (under the quota of OU-PSD). Zinoviy Mytnyk replaced Kniazevych on March 11, 2010, when the new government led by Azarov was formed. On December 21, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a decree to dismiss Health Minister Mytnyk and appoint Illia Yemets to this post. Five months later, Yemets was dismissed. Currently the health ministry is headed by Oleksandr Anischenko.
Azarov became the prime minister on March 11, 2010. He had been MP since 2007.