Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has stunned the public and media by saying in her income declaration that she got $5.5 million from a “US resident” as compensation for Ukrainian government “repressions.”
A financial disclosure statement filed in late April by Tymoshenko, who now serves as an MP in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, says she received a whopping 148 million hryvnias ($5.5 million) as part of a pre-trial settlement in a case filed over her persecution at the hands of the Ukrainian authorities back in 2011-2014.
Yet, Tymoshenko’s declaration doesn’t disclose anything about the lawsuit, besides the name of an American law firm, Reid Collins & Tsai LLP, as the source of the tranche. The legal company’s website mentions nothing about any cases related to the former Ukrainian prime minister.
The former prime minister also took to Facebook to provide some additional clarifications on this issue after the media hype. Yet, her post left more questions than answers since she only said she reached a pre-trial settlement with a “US resident” in the case dealing with her persecution in Ukraine.
Back in 2011, she was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of power. The case was related to a 2009 gas deal she struck with Russia. The case sparked an angry reaction in European capitals as well as in Washington, which all called it politically motivated. The European Court of Human Rights declared her sentence to be “illegal,” European leaders called for a boycott of Kiev and the US Senate threatened Ukraine with sanctions over the issue.
Moscow also criticized Kiev over its treatment of Tymoshenko. The then-president, Dmitry Medvedev, called her case “a political affair” and said that persecution of a political opponent is “absolutely unacceptable” and “casts a shadow” on both Ukraine and “those who make such decisions.”
Eventually, Tymoshenko spent just about a year behind bars and two more in a hospital as she suffered from a spine disorder. She was freed during the 2014 Maidan coup that toppled former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
The latest known case Tymoshenko filed in a US court was a lawsuit against the co-owner of natural gas transport company RosUkrEnergo, Dmytro Firtash, whom she accused of corruption. This case dates back to the times preceding her own sentencing by a Ukrainian court, though.
In fact, the Ukrainian politician herself stands accused of “organized crime.” A US company, Universal Trading & Investment Co., Inc. (UTICo), accuses the former prime minister and her husband of running a money-laundering scheme that allowed them to legalize bribes worth millions of dollars.
The mysterious circumstances of the “compensation payment” prompted some Ukrainian media to doubt if the hefty sum has anything to do with a court settlement.
Some of them suspected it of being another money laundering scheme while others noted that Tymoshenko’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, who also happens to be her fellow party member and a Ukrainian MP, declared receiving a total of 133 million hryvnias ($4.9 million) from the same company in 2019. He did not mention any “repressions” or “compensations,” though, but simply described it as “foreign income.”
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