Ukraine's Minister of the Interior Yuri Lutsenko is insisting that chairman of the Donetsk Regional Council Boris Kolesnikov was detained for extortion, and is categorically rejecting the idea of a political motive of this case.
"It is a purely criminal case," Mr. Lutsenko stated at a meeting of Verkhovnaya Rada.
According to him, the investigation has found out that Mr. Kolesnikov engaged in extortion. In particular, three attempts were made on the man who was being pressed to give his shares away. "What politics is it? It is genuine banditry," the Minister said.
"I can assure you that all the actions regarding citizen Kolesnikov fully accord with legislation," the Minister went on to say.
Mr. Lutsenko said that Mr. Kolesnikov had been detained according to the article of the Criminal Code "extortion which led to a property damage of a particularly great scale, perpetrated by an organized group or linked with causing severe bodily injuries." This crime carries a punishment by deprivation of liberty for a period of 7-12 years.
Boris Kolesnikov was detained on Wednesday after an interrogation in the Prosecutor-General's Office of Ukraine. The chairman of the Donetsk Regional Council was called to the Prosecutor-General's Office as a witness on a case of separatism. The case was launched in connection with the holding of a congress of representatives of Ukraine's southern and eastern Regions in Severodonetsk on November 28, 2004. The congress decided to hold a referendum and to proclaim Donbass an autonomy if Viktor Yanukovich were not recognized president of Ukraine.
The representatives of the "new opposition" headed by former candidate to the Presidency Yanukovich called Mr. Kolesnikov's detention political persecution.