More arrests from Tymoshenko’s circle
The Prosecutor General asserts that they are not only going for opponents, but representatives of the current regime. The latest arrest on Friday was of one of the heads of the State Customs Service, Viktor Bondar, who under President Yushchenko was Minister of Transport, and then headed the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration.
The Prosecutor General, Viktor Pshonka, at a press conference in Kyiv offices boasted that a member of the current regime had been arrested and a criminal investigation started. He was responding to criticism from journalists that the Prosecutor’s Office was being selective in finding misuse by officials and only seeking potential criminals among its opponents.
Pshonka said that Viktor Bondar had been summoned and arrested also with regard to misuse for motives of personal gain, but did not specify what position he had occupied when the actions were allegedly committed.
Later he informed that the criminal investigation had been initiated “for abetting the deliberate destruction of property belonging to somebody else”. Bondar himself, who was phoned by journalists, said that he was at the Prosecutor General’s Office giving evidence, but knew nothing of any arrest. He said that the criminal case was an old one which had long been closed. He said it was “totally trumped up”.
Bondar occupied several high-ranking positions when Yushchenko was President, but he was dismissed from his post as Dnipropetrovsk Governor on 4 February (i.e. shortly before the second round of Presidential elections – translator) after he openly supported Tymoshenko during the first round of the elections.
He joined Yanukovych’s team on 28 May 2010, with the post (of seventh Deputy to the Head of the Customs Service) being specially created by the Cabinet of Ministers .
Analysts believe it possible that the regime is trying to target such new people from the former regime to prove their relentlessness in fighting corruption in their own ranks. Another possibility is that they hope to get testimony out of Bondar against the former Prime Minister.
It was announced also that Tetyana Slyuz, who under Prime Minister Tymoshenko headed the State Treasury has been declared wanted for questioning. Pshonka’s predecessor, Oleksandr Medvedko, had already announced that a criminal investigation had been initiated over alleged misuses by State Treasury officials. The first Deputy Head, Tetyana Hrytsun has been remanded in custody.
The charge is that the officials during the period from October 2009 to January 2010 gave instructions to their subordinates to not pay tender deposits of 800 million UAH to the companies Nortima and Frunze –Flora, bidding in the tender for the privatization of the Odessa Port Factory.
The former Chief Accountant of Naftohaz, Maria Kushnir whom a Russian court has also said can be extradited to Ukraine is also wanted for questioning.
Yulia Tymoshenko is going for questioning almost every day.
She is accused of having used the money received from sale of Kyoto Protocol carbon credits to pay pensions, and not for environmental programmes.
At present the former Head of the Customs Service, Makarenko and ex-Deputy Head of Naftohaz, Didenko are behind bars. Minister in Tymoshenko’s government, Danylyshyn is being held in custody in the Czech Republic. Yanukovych’s regime is seeking his extradition.
The opposition has called the arrests political persecution aimed at destroying opponents.
On 24 December 32 members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia published an open appeal to the President demanding a stop to “political persecution of the leader of Batkivshchyna, Yulia Tymoshenko.
Among the signatories are Ivan Dzyuba, Levko Lukyanenko, Yury Shcherbak, Maria Matyus and Yury Andrukhovych,
“We are standing today on the threshold of times when all that we went through in the XX century is beginning to repeat itself. There is again rule of one party, there is political pressure on society and the media, the opposition is persecuted and lawlessness and corruption are rampant”, the appeal reads.
Slightly abridged from the BBC Ukrainian Service report
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