Source Pravda.Ru

Tymoshenko: court has cleared her of old criminal cases

Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said the Supreme Court had canceled decade-old criminal cases against her and her family a victory for the charismatic politician who aims to get her job back in spring elections.

"This finally brings this to an end," she said Saturday. Tymoshenko was a key figure in last year's Orange Revolution, but was fired as prime minister in September after a split with one-time ally President Viktor Yushchenko.

The criminal cases against the former energy executive began in 1995, and continued to accumulate in 2001 after she had a falling-out with former President Leonid Kuchma and was ousted from his government.

She and other family members were jailed briefly on charges of bribery, money-laundering, corruption and abuse of power.

"We all suffered through this ... but I'm proud of us and our supporters. We weren't broken," said Tymoshenko's husband, who went into hiding after being put on the wanted list in 2003. He said he spent the time in Ukraine and was recognized on the streets.

Tymoshenko showed reporters the court order canceling all the criminal cases. The Supreme Court could not be contacted for comment Saturday.

Recent opinion polls suggest that none of the three main blocs Yushchenko's, Tymoshenko's and that led by losing presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych will win enough votes to form a majority on their own.

Tymoshenko has said she hopes to form a coalition with Yushchenko, but insisted that she would not make a concession, such as yielding the prime minister's job. Both former allies share a pro-Western outlook, in contrast to Yanukovych's Russian-leaning sympathies, but personal rivalries have come between them.

Yushchenko's party has also said it would support a coalition with Tymoshenko, and preliminary talks got under way Saturday.

"It is becoming clear that the election will be about who becomes prime minister," she said. "The people will chose. It won't be a decision made behind-the-scenes."

Tymoshenko, meanwile, confirmed that she plans to participate in Tuesday's celebrations marking the anniversary of last year's Orange Revolution. "I couldn't not be on the square," said Tymoshenko, who played a key role in keeping up morale during last year's election fraud protests, reported AP. P.T.