Ukraine drops charge against Tymoshenko lawyer
A Ukrainian court on Friday dropped an assault charge against the lawyer of the jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which he had described as politically motivated.
Kiev district court upheld a complaint by Sergiy Vlasenko calling for the case to be closed due to the statute of limitations, said the press service of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party.
The case against Vlasenko, which relates to alleged violence committed several years ago, was launched in November last year as Ukraine was deciding whether to sign a historic agreement with the European Union.
President Viktor Yanukovych eventually chose to ditch the EU deal and seek closer relations with Russia in a move that triggered a wave of street protests in the former Soviet country’s biggest political crisis in a decade.
Tymoshenko’s lawyer faced up to two years in prison if found guilty of causing minor bodily harm.
However on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s office announced fresh charges against Vlasenko of “unlawfully imprisoning or kidnapping” his former wife, which could lead to up to five years in prison.
Vlasenko told AFP that the new charges were “a bolt from the blue,” claiming that the authorities wanted to put him in pre-trial detention during the investigation.
Under the new, more serious charges, the authorities are legally allowed to place Vlasenko under arrest, he said.
“The only aim is to put me behind bars,” he added.
He has denounced the case against him as a “total lie” and “political repression”.
“I am only here because I am on Yulia Tymoshenko’s defence team,” he told reporters earlier this month.