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Ukraine begins to cover Russian gas bill

Jan. 19, 2013 at 11:07 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said Ukraine has made a small down payment on the $390 million debt United Energy Systems owes Russia.

"Payments have started [and] $7.5 million have already been paid to Russia," Pshonka said referring to the debt owed by the state-run energy company once headed by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko has been jailed over abuse of office charges that stemmed from her part in negotiating a gas deal with Russia in 2009.

Tymoshenko and her attorneys have said the charges against her were trumped up by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence, also has been accused of tax evasion and forgery, charges her defense team also consider to be retribution by a political rival.

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