World News

Ukraine's Tymoshenko says targeted in inquiry

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said on Wednesday that she was being investigated over allegations of misuse of state funds but dismissed the accusations as an attempt to intimidate the opposition.

“I have just learnt from an investigator that a criminal case has been launched against me personally,” Tymoshenko said in a statement posted on her website.

Tymoshenko, then prime minister, narrowly lost a presidential election this year to long-time opponent Viktor Yanukovich whose government has ordered an audit of her cabinet’s affairs.

The auditors’ report, published in October, alleged Tymoshenko’s government had illegally used funds from selling carbon emission rights under the Kyoto protocol to plug gaps in the pension fund.

The state prosecutor’s office said separately that Tymoshenko was now being investigated for abuse of office and that she had been ordered not to leave the country.

Tymoshenko’s supporters have described the audit and accusations against her former ministers, three of whom face similar charges, as an attempt to intimidate the opposition.

“The terror against the opposition continues,” Tymoshenko said, adding that state prosecutors had summoned her for another round of questioning on December 20.

Tymoshenko, 50, an impassioned speaker, was one of the leaders of the 2004 “Orange Revolution”, a series of street protests that stripped Yanukovich of victory in a disputed presidential election.

Pro-Western politician Viktor Yushchenko then won the 2004 elections with Tymoshenko’s support but relations between the two have since soured, allowing Yanukovich to stage a comeback this year amid discontent and economic decline.

Reporting by Pavel Poliytuk; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov