A Ukrainian court handed down quite a sensational ruling the other day. It ordered Ukraine to pay Russia 3.113 billion hryvnias to discharge a debt of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), even though the Minister of Justice, Oleksandr Lavrynovych, has already said that the state should not pay off private debts. Moreover, there are no legally-confirmed state guarantees with respect to the UESU debt.
It will be recalled that Yulia Tymoshenko is still on trial in Kharkiv on charges of UESU financial abuses and the infliction of losses on the state.
Both the Ukrainian and the Russian parties to the trial refuse to comment on the Kyiv Economic Court’s ruling. Meanwhile, the opposition believes it is nothing but a “dirty election technology.” In the view of Oleksandr Turchynov, an appellate or cassation court will overturn this ruling after the elections. The oppositionist claims that this is aimed at slinging mud at Tymoshenko as part of the election campaign.
The Russian opposition believes it is a special ploy of the Ukrainian and Russian presidents. “Putin feels very uncomfortable because Tymoshenko is doing time for the agreement she signed with him in 2009,” Boris Nemtsov told Radio Liberty. “So the imprisonment of Tymoshenko for the gas contract does not suit him, for he is in the Kremlin and she is in a Kharkiv jail. If Tymoshenko is convicted for these debts but has her gas contract charges dropped, Putin will be satisfied. I think Yanukovych and he made a deal on this – it is their joint special operation.”
The Kyiv Economic Court’s ruling shows that all methods are acceptable in Ukrainian politics. Political scientist Volodymyr FESENKO confirms this in a commentary to The Day.
“The court ruling only means that the prosecutors who handle the anti-Tymoshenko ‘UESU case’ have an important legal and material argument now,” Fesenko says, “i.e., a court ruling about the losses inflicted as a result of Tymoshenko’s actions. Now there are serious arguments and even a specific figure in the ‘UESU case.’ As part of the war against Yulia Tymoshenko, the state is to pay the Russians almost 400 million dollars. I think this ruling will be appealed after some time. In this case, it is a certain juridical combination in the interests of the Prosecutor General’s Office which is a party to the prosecution. They devised this scheme to feel easier at the ‘UESU case’ trial. As for the Russian side’s involvement, it is formally the Russian Ministry of Defense, but we know that this years-long case has never had a judicial chance. Why did it emerge just now? Because this argument is to be used against Tymoshenko.”
The worst thing is that the court, as a separate branch of power, is an instrument in the struggle of political opponents. And the unwillingness of both the current and the previous leaderships to set normal rules in this country exposes each next leadership to danger.