Tymoshenko's Defense Minister Sent to Jail in Ukraine
A Ukrainian court has sentenced the country's former acting Defense Minister Valeriy Ivashchenko to five years in jail for abuse of office.
Ivashchenko, who served in then-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's government from June 2009 to March 2010, was arrested in August 2010 over his alleged involvement in the illegal privatization of a shipbuilding plant in the Crimean port of Feodosiya, which caused an estimated USD 8.8 M in damages to Ukraine's budget.
Prosecutors had demanded that Ivashchenko be sentenced to six years behind bars, RIA Novosti reported.
The ex-minister, who has denied any wrongdoing, said he considered his case "fabricated" and the court ruling "unfair," but added that he had "no illusions" about his criminal prosecution.
"I understand that this was an order," he said without specifying.
He earlier claimed that his prosecution had been initiated by "influential people" whom he helped remove from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry back in 2009. Ivashchenko's wife told journalists on Thursday she believe her husband's sentence was "revenge by one of the deputy defense ministers" who acted "in cooperation with one of the prosecutor general's deputies."
Ivashchenko's lawyer said he would appeal against the ruling. Prosecutor Petro Koval said he believed the trial was "objective."
RIA Novosti points out that some observers have speculated that Ivashchenko's trial was part of what they described as President Viktor Yanukovych's crackdown on his political opponents, including the jailing of Ukraine's ex PM and opposition leader Tymoshenko, former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and former Ecology Minister Georgy Filipchuk. The Ukrainian authorities have dismissed the allegations.
Ivashchenko has complained of serious health problems. On April 9, when the previous hearing into his case took place, he was delivered to the court by an ambulance and brought in on a stretcher.
Sergei Mikheyev, a former senior manager of the Feodosiya plant accused in the same case, was sentenced to three years in jail, instead of five as the prosecutors had demanded. He has pleaded guilty.
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