Topic: Yulia Tymoshenko case
KIEV, July 30 (RIA Novosti)
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Jailed Ukrainian ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been chosen by the country’s main opposition parties to lead them to victory in parliamentary elections slated for October.
A statement issued at the end of the united opposition parties’ congress on Monday endorsed the candidacy of the former prime minister to head the opposition parties' electoral lists in the elections.
The move may be simply symbolic for the embattled former prime minister because Ukrainian law prohibits people who are serving a prison term from running in national elections.
Tymoshenko was sentenced in October 2011 to seven years in prison for abuse of office in concluding a natural gas contract with Russia in 2009, in a case her supporters claim is politically motivated.
Hearings on a second criminal case are expected to resume in Kharkov District Court on Tuesday, after it was postponed in June to allow Tymoshenko, 51, who is suffering from back pain, to undergo a medical examination to see whether she can physically attend further hearings.
Tymoshenko is being accused of tax evasion, embezzling state funds and forgery, which caused the country multimillion-dollar losses during her term as the head of United Energy Systems of Ukraine in the mid-1990s.
The united opposition is expected to field candidates for all 450 seats at stake during the October 28 parliamentary elections.
Half the deputies will be elected in single-mandate constituencies using a single-round, first-past-the-post system. The other 225 will be elected nationwide based on party lists, with a 5% threshold to gain representation.
Registration of candidates began on July 30 and runs until August 9, according to the country’s Central Election Commission. Political parties are expected to submit lists of their candidates to the CEC by August 13, while registration must be completed by August 20.
The two largest opposition parties in Ukraine – Tymoshenko’s Fatherland and People's Self-Defense led by former Speaker Arseny Yatseniuk - teamed up with five smaller parties in April to form a united opposition against the pro-government Party of the Regions. Recent polls suggest that both the pro-government parties and the opposition are running neck and neck.
Prominent opposition figures, including Yatseniuk and former Internal Affairs Minister Yury Lutsenko will be running alongside Tymoshenko. Lutsenko, 47, a member of the People’s Self Defense bloc, was sentenced to four years in prison in February for embezzlement and abuse of office while in government. Like Tymoshenko, Lutsenko has denied the charges, saying they are politically engineered by President Viktor Yanukovych.
Others in the top-ten bracket include leader of the opposition "Ukraine" Vyacheslav Kirilenko, ex-Deputy Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Grigory Nemyria, leader of the Party "Reforms and Order" Serhiy Sobolev and leader of the Popular Movement of Ukraine Borys Tarasyuk. Mykola Tomenko, a Batkivschyna leader and the deputy speaker of parliament, has resigned his post to contest on the opposition platform.
The united opposition is also fielding a number of fugitives, including former Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn, who was granted political asylum by the Czech Republic last year after the authorities in Kyiv accused him of squandering almost $2 million of public funds.
Arsen Avakov, the governor of the eastern Kharkiv region in 2005-2010 and a Tymosehnko ally, also made it to the opposition list. Avakov was detained in Italy in March after a request to send him back to Kiev to face charges of abuse of power. He still faces a legal battle to avoid extradition.
Lutsenko's wife Irina is also expected to contest under the opposition banner.
"We believe that these people will win the election and form a Democratic majority that will confront the Yanukovych regime," said Oleksander Turchinov, deputy chairman of the Fatherland party.
Meanwhile, the united opposition has vowed to punish all those responsible for political repression in the country and fully rehabilitate incarcerated opposition leaders, including Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko, if it wins the October parliamentary elections.
"We would like to warn that once the united Fatherland opposition party wins the elections and forms a democratic majority in the Verkhovna Rada, all those found guilty of political repression in Ukraine, [and] those engaged in criminal activity and committed fraud are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the united opposition party said in a statement posted on its website.
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