Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko is to be charged with murder because of her alleged involvement in the 1996 slaying of a member of the Ukrainian parliament and then one of the Ukraine’s wealthiest people, Yevhen Scherban. If convicted, Tymoshenko faces life in prison.
Many critics of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s government charge it with corruption and allege that these charges against Tymoshenko are politically motivated. The charges were announced Friday, January 18, by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka. Pshonka claimed that enough material evidence was assembled that implicated Tymoshenko and another former Ukrainian prime minister, Pavlo Lazarenko, in a conspiracy to kill Yevhen Scherban over business interests. Tymoshenko’s party, United Ukrainian Opposition Fatherland said in a statement:
They do not conceal that they want to hold not only the opposition leader but all of Ukraine behind bars for life … Understanding that the European Court of Human Rights will put an end to the dirty and empty tricks against Yulia Tymoshenko in the near future, Yanukovich’s associates have resorted to a deeply brazen and mendacious step.
It is also speculated that Yanukovich may want to keep Tymoshenko sidelined in order to easily retake the presidency in 2015. By keeping her jailed on trumped up charges, Yanukovich has effectively removed her from the political scene. Some evidence for this tactic and its potential for success is shown by the results from the most recent Ukrainian parliamentary election in 2012 in which Tymoshenko was unable to participate and Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions increased its parliamentary majority.