Relations between the EU and Ukraine hang in the balance over fresh criminal charges facing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
She is now being investigated in connection with three other cases. The state prosecutor’s office is re-activating an old charge of embezzlement against Tymonshenko going back to the mid-1990s when she ran energy company, Unified Energy Systems.
The revived case includes accusations of tax evasion and theft of around five million euros.
Her seven year jail sentence for abuse of office had already sparked outrage. Her lawyer says she intends to appeal but he’s not optimistic about the outcome.
“The EU has always recognised that this case is politically motivated. It’s an attempt to criminalise normal political decisions taken by a prime minister. We don’t expect to find justice in the Court of Appeal,” said Sergiy Vlasenko.
The opposition leader’s Motherland party says she is the victim of a political vendetta waged by President Viktor Yanukovich, who narrowly beat her to the presidency last year. One member told euronews of what he believes is the government hidden agenda.
“There’s been lots of political chatter about Ukraine moving closer to joining the EU but certain decision are being taken which will drag Ukraine into a union with Russia and then the Eurasian Economic Community,” said Viktor Shvets
There is no sign that the sharp reaction from the EU which called off a planned meeting with Yanukovich in Brussels last week has influenced thinking in Kiev.
The EU’s Ambassador to Ukraine Jose Maneul Pinto Teixeira told euronews: “we don’t want to express an opinion prematurely but as far as new charges are concerned it’s worrying that they’re not taking into consideration the concerns expressed by the EU.”
Our correspondent in Kiev, Sergio Cantone says an association agreement with the EU, which had been due to be signed by the end of the year is now in doubt. Some EU diplomats are now questioning whether a Ukraine-EU summit will be held at all.