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Ukraine court sentences Tymoshenko ally to 4 years

This news story was published on February 28, 2012.
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By Stefan Korshak –

KIEV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian court sentenced a key political ally of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to four years in prison Monday, dealing another blow to pro-Western politicians in the former Soviet republic.

A Kiev court ruled that Yury Lutsenko, a former interior minister, had broken abuse-of-office laws by conspiring to place a friend in a government job, and by using his influence as a government minister to obtain an apartment for the man.

He also was found guilty of spending about $80,000 of state funds on an “extravagant” celebration for his then-subordinates to mark National Police Day, a Ukrainian holiday, the ruling said.

The government will confiscate Lutsenko’s personal property and he will be banned from holding public office or a management job for two years after being released from prison, the judge told the court.

Lutsenko, 47, has been in jail since December 2010. He said the verdict and sentence were politically motivated, and he spat in the face of a prosecutor leaving the courtroom, a witness present in the courtroom told the German news agency dpa.

Lutsenko’s lawyer said there were plans to appeal the decision.

Tymoshenko was sentenced in October to seven years in jail on abuse-of-office charges.

Tymoshenko and Lutsenko were leaders of Ukraine’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution. They contend their trials are the result of a vendetta pursued by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych against his political opponents.

Yanukovych has denied the allegations and said he supports even-handed justice.

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