Tymoshenko’s involvement in murder ‘irrefutable,’ says Ukrainian prosecutor
The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office has "irrefutable evidence" of former Prime Minsiter Yulia Tymoshenko's involvement in the murder of a Ukrainian lawmaker and businessman in 1996, its first deputy head, Renat Kuzmin, said on Saturday, RIA Novosti reported.
Yevgeny Shcherban, a Supreme Rada deputy and head of financial corporation Anton, was shot and killed at the airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in November 1996. Shcherban's wife and an airport employee were also killed in the attack.
Eight people were arrested and jailed over the murder in the early 2000s. Three of them received life sentences.
Pavel Lazarenko, who served as Ukraine's prime minister in 1996-1997, has been indicted for ordering the murder. He is currently serving a prison term in the United States for money laundering.
The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office previously said it was examining Tymoshenko's possible links to the case.
In an interview with Ukraine's Inter TV channel early on Saturday, Kuzmin said "money has been transferred to the killers' bank accounts from firms owned by Lazarenko and Tymoshenko," who was Lazarenko's ally in the 1990s.
"Moreover," he said, "the Somali Enterprises firm, which transferred money for Shcherban's killing, also transferred money for Tymoshenko to buy fur coats, jewelry, cars, or to pay for hotels, in restaurants and so on."
Tymoshenko's spokeswoman Natalia Lysova has dismissed claims that her boss could be linked to the lawmaker's murder as "rubbish."
Tymoshenko, currently Ukraine's leading opposition figure, was sentenced to seven years in prison in October on charges of abusing her authority by pushing through a gas deal with Russia in 2009. Her trial, which has been widely seen as politically motivated, sparked strong Western criticism, with the European Union threatening to stop negotiations with Ukraine on its association with the 27-nation bloc.
Tymoshenko's lawyers have already appealed the verdict, which has also been criticized by Russia.
Other charges Tymoshenko faces include the misuse of funds received from the sale of greenhouse gas discharge quotas under the Kyoto Protocol, the misappropriation of funds to purchase ambulances, and illegal operations of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) company in the late 1990s when Tymoshenko was its head.