Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday a new inquiry into Ukrainian ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko was connected with her company’s debts to Russia's Defense Ministry.
Tymoshenko, 50, was jailed for seven years last Tuesday for exceeding her powers in signing a gas deal with Russia in 2009. Two days later a new case was opened against her on a debt to the Russian Defense Ministry.
“The debt is here from a private Ukrainian company to the Defense Ministry,” Lavrov said refusing to elaborate.
The Ukrainian security service said on October 13 that the second case concerned a debt of $405 million, which the United Energy Systems of Ukraine, then chaired by Tymoshenko, owed to the Russian Defense Ministry in the 1990s. The United Energy Systems of Ukraine was the main importer of Russian gas in 1996.
Lavrov earlier described the first criminal case against Tymoshenko, who built her fortune during the controversial 1990s privatization era, as politicized. He said a former premier could not be judged for a gas contract whose legal basis had never been questioned.
The security service said the new case had been opened after the Russian Defense Ministry sent a letter to the Ukrainian cabinet in June demanding that the debt be paid.
Russia had earlier opened a criminal case against Tymoshenko but closed it due to a statute of limitations when she became premier in 2007.