(Corrects year of Akimova’s election: 2007, not 2010)
PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks quote a Ukrainian lawmaker as saying that under former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko 70 percent of government spending was allocated without tenders, French daily Le Monde reported.
Le Monde cited cables from the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, one of which quoted lawmaker Iryna Akimova as also saying that around a quarter of the money “circulating through public market procurement in 2009 (around $5 billion) was stolen”.
The leaked cables, dating from end-February, come as Tymoshenko, now leader of the opposition, is being investigated over allegations of misuse of state funds — accusations she has dismissed as being an attempt to intimidate her party.
“I have just learnt from an investigator that a criminal case has been launched against me personally,” Tymoshenko said this week in a statement posted on her website, adding: “The terror against the opposition continues.”
Akimova was elected to parliament in 2007 as a member of the Regions Party of Viktor Yanukovich, who was elected president earlier this year. She is now Yanukovich’s economic adviser.
Tymoshenko narrowly this year’s presidential election to long-time foe Yanukovich, whose government ordered an audit of her cabinet’s affairs. The auditors’ report, published in October, alleged Tymoshenko’s government illegally used funds from selling carbon emission rights under the Kyoto protocol to plug gaps in the pension fund.
The state prosecutor’s office has said that Tymoshenko is being investigated for abuse of office and that she has been ordered not to leave the country.
Tymoshenko, 50, 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.