US “Disappointed” by Ukraine’s Lutsenko Verdict

Posted August 17th, 2012 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States says it is “disappointed” by Friday's verdict in the trial of Ukraine's former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, calling it a “politically motivated prosecution of opposition members.”

In a statement, the U.S. embassy in Kyiv said the prosecution of Lutsenko and his close ally, jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, raises serious concerns about Ukraine's commitment to democracy and rule of law.

A Kyiv court on Friday ruled Lutsenko was guilty of improperly extending the length of an anti-corruption probe. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the sentence was annulled because he is already serving four years for embezzlement and abuse of office.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year sentence after being convicted of abuse of office in 2011 while she was prime minister. She has denied the charges.

On Wednesday a Ukrainian court upheld a decision to disallow two jailed opposition leaders the chance to register as candidates for upcoming parliamentary elections.

In an interview this week with VOA's Ukrainian Service, Lutsenko called the prosecutions of Tymoshenko and himself “politically motivated.” He also said President Viktor Yanukovych's ruling party had determined that prosecuting the two will create a fear of Ukrainian authorities.