Criminal investigation against MPs protesting Tymoshenko murder charges
MPs from the Batkivshchyna Party have had a criminal case initiated over alleged resistance shown to law enforcement officers in the Kyiv Court of Appeal.
The Interior Ministry’s statement says that a pre-trial investigation is being undertaken over “injuries inflicted on police officers protecting law and order in the Kyiv Court of Appeal during the examination of the Shcherban murder case.
It states that on 13 February a hearing took place in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, during which around 20 MPs were present.
When Judge Oksana Tsarevych announced that she was fining Ms Tymoshenko for what she called contempt of court, there was protest from the MPs.
Tsarevych also fined MP and Tymoshenko’s defence lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko the same amount for contempt, over breach of order in court.
Tsarevych then ordered that the MPs be removed, which the Grifon court police set to doing. In the scuffles that followed, a police officer was allegedly injured (the MPs say he was simulating injury).
The Ministry informs that the relevant article of the Criminal Code carries a sentence ranging from a fine to 2 years imprisonment.
Scuffles in such situation have long been common in Ukraine, together with fights in parliament. Over the last three years any such criminal investigations have always been initiated against members of the opposition. This was particularly pronounced in April 2010 when protests in parliament during the vote over the highly controversial Kharkiv accords left a few opposition MPs with serious injuries. Criminal investigations over smoke bombs and the like were only initiated against two opposition MPs.
With the new criminal investigation alleging Tymoshenko’s involvement in the murder of Shcherban, protest is inevitable. It remains to be seen whether attempts are genuinely made to prosecute MPs, but even if they are, the protest over this new disturbing development is not likely to abate.
As reported, no western analysts or politicians have expressed anything but deepest skepticism over the charges.