Tymoshenko may face fines, not jail

Sept. 30, 2011 at 1:10 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Kiev may consider scrapping criminal punishment for opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in favor of a payment of damages, a lawmaker said.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister is on trial on charges that she abused her power in connection with a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia. Western leaders said they believe the charges against the opposition leader are politically motivated.

Lawmakers are considering a bill presented this week by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that would ban jail terms for authorities charged with economic crimes.

"The main condition for the scrapping of criminal punishment stipulated in this article should be the payment of damages caused to the state -- particularly, to (gas company) Naftogaz -- as well as the payment of all taxes to the state budget," Dmitriy Shentsev, deputy director of the pro-Yanukovych Party of Regions, was quoted by the National News Agency of Ukraine as saying.

Yanukovych is in Poland meeting with European leaders in an effort to establish partnership agreements with the European Union.

Prosecutors this week had called for fines and a seven-year prison term for Tymoshenko.

The Tymoshenko trial resumes Oct. 11. The Ukrainian news agency said that's when a verdict is expected.

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