Ukrainian investigators accuse Tymoshenko of ordering murder over gas deal
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KIEV, January 22 - RAPSI. Investigators for Ukraine's federal prosecutors have accused former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko ordered the killing of business rival Yevhen Shcherban in 1996 over control of the Donetsk natural gas market.
Kommersant Ukraine on Tuesday published excerpts from a statement delivered to Tymoshenko in prison last week which read that she was suspected of ordering an assassination.
Last Friday, Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka announced the completion of the high profile murder case and that investigators believe the killing was ordered by two former Ukrainian prime ministers, Tymoshenko and Pavel Lazarenko.
Both are referred to simply by the letters T. and L. According to the investigators, Shcherban, a businessman and national deputy, stood in the way of making United Energy Systems of Ukraine - the corporation Tymoshenko headed at the time - the monopoly distributor of gas in the Donetsk Region. "T. and L. colluded to order the killing of Yevhen Shcherban by M. (a reference to the now dead criminal leader Alexander "Matros" Milchenko) for a guaranteed consideration of $3 million", the statement said. To undertake this order, Matros hired a gang which had been operating in Ukraine since late 1993.
Shcherban, head of the Aton financial corporation, was shot dead at the Donetsk airport in November 1996. His wife and an airport employee were also killed.
In October 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of power based on a 2009 gas contract that she signed with Russia. She is serving her sentence in a Kharkiv women's prison. She has been receiving treatment at a local hospital since May 2012. She was diagnosed with a spinal disc herniation.
In late March, a second case bringing further charges against Tymoshenko was filed with Kharkiv's Kievsky District Court. The case deals with her activity at United Energy Systems. She has also been accused of misappropriating funds.
Lazarenko was released from Terminal Island prison in California at the end of 2012. The former official spent over 10 years in prison for money laundering and extortion. Lazarenko is currently still in the United States. Both he and Tymoshenko deny the accusations.