Yanukovych mum about Tymoshenko

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Sept. 20, 2011, 9:27 p.m. | Politics — by Associated Press

Members of parliament gather to show their support for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich during a ceremony to open parliament in Kiev, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.
© AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Ukraine's president on Tuesday refused to say what will happen to the country's former prime minister, a key political opponent who has been jailed during her trial on charges of abusing her powers while in office. In an interview with The Associated Press, Viktor Yanukovych would only say that he understood the "tremendous responsibility" the imprisonment and trial of Yulia Tymoshenko has placed on the Ukrainian justice system.

The charges against Tymoshenko, who allegedly abused her powers when signing a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009, are widely viewed in Europe and the United States as politically motivated. Prosecutors say she violated legal procedures when the deal was signed.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton together with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton sent Yanukovych a letter regarding the Tymoshenko trial earlier this month, according to an EU official. Neither side has disclosed what was in the letter.

"We categorically reject such allegations," Yanukovych said, when asked if the prosecution of Tymoshenko was politically motivated.

Yanukovych instead said the country's code of criminal procedures was under revision for the first time since 1962, when Ukraine was a republic of the former Soviet Union. The president said he understood the code needed revision as Ukraine seeks integration with the European Union and that many things now considered to be criminal acts should not be when the laws are rewritten.

However, Yanukovych declined to speculate on when the new laws might become effective or if that would affect the outcome of the Tymoshenko prosecution.

"It's difficult for me to foresee or forecast the court's ruling and our subsequent actions will depend on that," Yanukovych said.

Tymoshenko was jailed during her trial early last month on charges of contempt of court. She insists she is innocent and claims the trial was orchestrated by Yanukovych to keep her out of political life.

Although a deeply divisive figure in Ukraine, Tymoshenko retains a substantial following and was only narrowly defeated by Yanukovych in last year's presidential election.

In advance of Yanukovych's visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, which formally opens Wednesday, the judge presiding over Tymoshenko's trial unexpectedly postponed hearings Sept. 12 for two weeks. That move was seen as a means to divert attention from the legal proceedings while Yanukovych is at the U.N. and possibly as a response to the renewed pressure from the United States and European Union.

The Tymoshenko trial was due to enter its final stage, with the prosecution and defense teams presenting their closing arguments on the day the judge ordered the postponement. Monday. Tymoshenko had said she expected a verdict by the end of that week.

While Yanukovych insisted the Tymoshenko prosecution was out of his hands, he acknowledged that the legal system under which she is being tried was in need of an overhaul.

"We well understand the need to revise and reform the current system of criminal justice. The judiciary system needs to be reformed and we are dealing with these matters in a very determined manner," the Ukrainian president said.

On other issues, Yanukovych said:

—Ukraine was withholding a decision on an invitation to join the Moscow-led customs union with other former Soviet Republics. He said the proposal to sign up with that trade group, which would make it impossible for Kiev to also sign a free trade agreement with the European Union, left far too many questions unanswered.

—Ukraine was attempting to overcome what he called repeated treaty violations by Russia that have caused disruptions of natural gas supplies to Europe. Russia's huge natural gas supplies flow to Central and Western Europe through pipelines that transit Ukraine. Both countries have been consumed with bitter disputes over the pricing of natural gas and the charges Ukraine receives as a transit path.

Yanukovych plans to be in Moscow later this month in an attempt re-negotiate the natural gas issue. If he succeeds in reaching a better deal on pricing and transit charges, that would nullify the contract signed by Tymoshenko in 2009 and could give Ukrainian authorities a way out of the diplomatic brouhaha surrounding her trial.

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Anonymous Sept. 20, 2011, 9:47 p.m.    

What could he possibly say? :)

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Anonymous Sept. 20, 2011, 10:02 p.m.    

The man who has been calling the shots from day one of the Tymoshenko trial, says it is out of his hands. How can he have credibility as a head of state when he lies, and lies and lies!!! It just shows he is not to be believed or trusted.

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Anonymous Sept. 20, 2011, 10:14 p.m.    

Yanukovyck can say the following: Uvikny...Uvim...Uvikn...Uvikny...Viknit’ (

Yanukovych’s At It Again) :-))

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 12:05 a.m.    

Once again for the umpteenth time Victor Yanukovych has demonstrated his prowess at being the &quot;proffessor emeritus&quot; of hypocrisy. He stated on one hand that the law which allowed for the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko was outdated and needed to be scrapped, yet, on the other hand he needed to await the verdict of the trial in progress before he could act to ensure a proper ammendment. This &quot;double speak&quot; is symptomatic of a &quot;banyak&quot; or a &quot;village idiot&quot;. It is no wonder that the EU and the G8 regard him with such utter contempt.

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 12:10 a.m.    

The reason he has nothing to say about the Tymoshenko trial is because he's afraid to mess up while attending the United Nations General Assembly. We all know how he always ends up sticking his rear end into his mouth whenever he speaks. If the government of Yanukovych was serious about revising and reforming the current system of criminal justice, it would have already been accomplish and the Soviet type of justice system completely abolish. Yet, the current justice system works on his favor, especially in keeping Tymoshencko from participating in a free and transparent election. The Tyrant heard President Obama state to the UN Assembly what happens to dictators who abuse there positions and forcibly ensure a control of power...they all end up facing justice at the end. The prosecution of Tymoshenko is not out of the Tyrant's control because he and his cronies are directing the injustice of the persecution of Tymoshenko and the opposition. The world knows exactly what they (Party of Looters) are doing and there motive behind the backsliding of democracy in Ukraine. Everything they do is for the benefit of the Party just like it was during the Soviet era and it's certainly not about the people of Ukraine.

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 1:47 a.m.    

The comment that a free trade agreement with Russia would prevent a free trade agreement with the EU is BS. Many countries have multiple free trade groups/partnerships. There is nothing that would preclude one from the other.

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 1:50 a.m.    

Why is it that Yushchenko has not been charged for misuse and abuse of office. He constitently breached Ukraine's constitution most notably when he illegally dismissed Ukraine's previous parliament.

Selective justice is a denial of justice.

Tymoshenko could and should be released on bail pending the outcome of the trail. There is no justification for her detention. The same goes for other members of the opposition that are being politically persecuted.

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 4:28 a.m.    

Why is it that Yanukovych wasn't charged with vote fraud among other things? He hasn't just

brerached Ukraine's constitution but has rewritten it on the fly to cement he and his party's

grip on power. Here is a president who is misusing and abusing his office with impunity while

Yuschenko tried to govern while being harassed from all sides. Governing was almost as hard

for him as the nearly murderous 2004 presidential campaign.

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 6:50 p.m.    

Oh I've had it with you people. I hope they do stick her in prison, why ? Just because you do not understand that she is just as corrupt as yanukovich.. They both benefit from the east-west conflict in Ukraine. Just because a UKRAINIAN chooses to speak Russian, it isnt an excuse to spit on him amongst other things and vice versa. THAT is the true meaning of democracy. LET PEOPLE SPEAK CHINESE FOR GODS SAKE! You hypocritical people all pleed for human rights and democracy, then go do the complete opposite. You think destroying the Russian language in Ukraine will solve everything?! Oh puhlease, best example on TRUE democracy, look at our close neighbor slovakia, EVERY TOWN with a 15 % hungarian speaking communinty, the town officials are OBLIGED to put all signs in hungarian along with slovak. Hungarian is accepted as a 2nd formal language in Slovakia WITH ONLT 15% SPEAKING IT.. so is the case in the czech republic, where slovak and hungarian are accepted !!! yet 40+ % in Ukraine choose to speak Russian ( while knowing Ukrainian ofcourse ) and you go crazy. I am for Ukraine, I do not want the Russian GOVERNMENT, nor the US GOVERNMENT, nor the EU pressuring me to do anything. Yes, its the governments, Russians, Americans, and Europeans are quite nice people. Oh btw, if any of you whitty people will go dropping the holodomor on me, it was the SOVIETS. AND keep in mind Stalin was GEORGIAN AND NIKITA FRIKKIN KRUSHOV WAS UKRAINIAN. Either Love Ukraine , and Ukrainians HOWEVER THEY ARE, or keep your mouth shut.

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Anonymous Sept. 21, 2011, 7:24 p.m.    

He has nothing to say because he knows that he should be sitting next to her or her sitting next to him.

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