Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Tymoshenko encouraged by Manafort’s indictment

FAITH IN US JUSTICE:The two-time Ukrainian prime minister tried to sue former president Viktor Yanukovich and Paul Manafort, but the lawsuit was dismissed in 2015

Reuters, KIEV

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during an interview in Kiev on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on Wednesday said she has faith in the US justice system to do the right thing after last week’s indictment of Paul Manafort, the man who helped bring her arch enemy to power.

A political survivor and the strident voice of Ukraine’s 2004-2005 Orange Revolution, the former prime minister was jailed during the pro-Kremlin presidency of Viktor Yanukovich in 2011 in a case condemned by Western leaders as selective justice.

According to the indictment of Manafort, who was a consultant to Yanukovich’s Party of Regions before becoming then-Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort used offshore accounts to secretly pay US$4 million for a report on her imprisonment.

Ordered under house arrest as he awaits trial, Manafort has pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment on charges that include money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent of Yanukovich’s government.

MONEY LAUNDERING

Money laundering allegations against Manafort are not new: Tymoshenko herself made them in a legal case she filed in New York against Yanukovich, Manafort and others that was dismissed in September 2015.

“As a result of the work of Yanukovich and his circle, I ended up in prison,” the 56-year-old Tymoshenko said in an interview, in her first public comments about Manafort since his indictment.

She said Yanukovich spent huge sums to blacken her name.

“Without doubt this affected my life and that of my family and team in a certain way, and Ukraine as well,” she said. “That is why I believe that US justice will deal with the details, including our claims, and we will get a ruling from one of the most effective legal systems in the world — the US system.”

Manafort joined the Trump presidential campaign in March last year and later became campaign manager, but he was forced to resign in August as questions emerged about his previous work for Yanukovich’s party.

Tymoshenko used her fiery brand of oratory to try to humiliate Yanukovich, but he proved her nemesis after beating her in a 2010 election for president.

She was charged with abuse of power in relation to a gas import agreement signed with Russia in 2009 when she was prime minister and was jailed. She was freed from prison in February 2014 after Yanukovich fled into exile to Russia during the pro-Western Maidan protests and she addressed crowds from a wheelchair on Kiev’s Independence Square because of chronic back trouble.

The crowd’s sympathy for her condition did not help her though to regain a place in the new pro-western leadership and she lost to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the 2014 election.

However, the two-time prime minister, who still sports her trademark peasant braid, is now Poroshenko’s main challenger at presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2019, according to opinion polls.

Tymoshenko said Kiev should have a new type of agreement with the IMF, which has propped up Ukraine’s economy with a US$17.5 billion aid program conditional on economic reforms and tackling entrenched graft.

IMF COOPERATION

The IMF program is in choppy waters: As of now Ukraine has refused to implement a sharp hike in gas prices it had previously agreed to, while the fund is also studying whether recently passed pension changes pass muster.

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