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27.12.2010

Further (scant) information on latest arrest of former government member

   

According to a statement on the website of the People’s Self-Defence Party, Yury Lutsenko, former Minister of Internal Affairs, was arrested in connection with the criminal investigation into the poisoning of former President Yushchenko (when the latter was running for office in 2004).

Yury Lutsenko is reported as saying: “I congratulate Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko that in the sixth year of the investigation into his poisoning, they finally have an arrest.

I think that in the present political situation it is absolutely logical that this person should be the former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko.

Even less should one be surprised by the fact that given the categorical refusal of the victim himself, Yushchenko, as well as a number of witnesses, including Yanukovych, to respond to summonses to the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigators of the Prosecutor General’s Office used 11 Security Service Special Force officers and brought specifically Lutsenko to the SIZO [remand unit].”

Mr Lutsenko repeated his accusations against the present regime of persecution. “For me the political nature of this and other repressive cases against opponents of the present regime is clear”.

As reported earlier, Yury Lutsenko’s Press Secretary, Inna Kysil informed the press that Mr Lutsenko had just left his home to walk the dog at about 13.00 on Sunday afternoon when 11 Alpha officers detained him. They gave him no explanation, put him in the mini-van and took him away in an unidentified direction. She added that representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office were also present.  She also stressed that Yury Lutsenko has been kept under surveillance. Mr Lutsenko had time only to pass the dog and his mobile telephone to his family members..

The BBC reports unofficial information that Yury Lutsenko is being held at the SBU [Security Service] SIZO.

His son was witness to the arrest, and told the Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda that his father had been detained when he moved around the corner from his apartment block where there is no CCTV camera. Alpha Special Forces men jumped out of a mini-van and arrested him.

Yury Lutsenko is accused of embezzlement of public funding and misuse of his official position. This relates to an allegedly improper 40,000-UAH (3,840 euros) payment the former minister made to his driver.

Over recent weeks he has been going to the Prosecutor General’s Office for questioning. According to specialists, remand in custody is used where there is information suggesting that a person may try to abscond.

At the beginning of November 2010 Yury Lutsenko gave a written undertaking not to abscond. He was prohibited from leaving Kyiv. He has stated on a number of occasions that he has no intension to run away. “How the situation will develop, I can’t say, but I exclude the possibility of fleeing the country”, he stated at his last press conference.

The former minister considers the charges against him far-fetched. “They haven’t questioned a huge number of key witnesses, all the accusations are based solely on copies of documents and testimony of MIA employees to whom I supposedly gave verbal instructions. There is no other evidence”, he said recently.

Correspondent of the weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Serhiy Rakhmanin told the BBC that there have recently been arrests primarily of former government members linked to Tymoshenko or BYuT.

“I wouldn’t like to tempt fate, but I think that in this country at present nobody can feel safe from possible arrest. In order to predict more or less realistically who will be next, you need to fathom the logic by which the present regime is trying to detain, arrest and initiate criminal investigations. The only thing that I can understand is that the criminal investigations and the detentions are primarily aimed at those who represent the so-called consistent opposition.  These are primarily people who in one or other manner are linked to Tymoshenko or BYuT. For some reason the Prosecutor and other law enforcement bodies are not looking at members of the Cabinet of Ministers who got there under Viktor Yushchenko’s quota. On the other hand there is very close attention to people who represented Yulia Tymoshenko and her quota. Therefore, probably, if there are any arrests, detentions, charges, they will concern people linked to or involved with Ms Tymoshenko.”

Serhiy Rakhmanin adds: “All of this is happening in a very selective fashion and concerns one single political centre of influence, therefore it is more like political repression than establishing of order and clear observance of legislation”.

The present Ukrainian regime and President Yanukovych himself have on a number of occasions stated that they are not engaged in political repressions and that the arrests and investigations of former government officials are a part of a wide-scale fight against corruption.

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