Tymoshenko could still face jail time

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KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 4 (UPI) — Despite a new proposal in Ukraine banning prison sentences for economic crimes, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko won’t walk free, a Kiev official said.

Tymoshenko, the opposition leader and a former Ukrainian prime minister, is facing jail time if convicted of abusing her authority when she helped broker a 2009 natural gas deal with Russian energy company Gazprom.

The deal helped get gas supplies flowing again while she was prime minister, though the current government alleges it resulted in substantial economic harm.

Andriy Portnov, a top aide to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, said a proposal to ban prison terms for economic crimes won’t mean much for Tymoshenko.

He was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying measures regarding abuse of office “will not be decriminalized,” adding the proposal is meant to “improving the investment climate” in Ukraine.

Lawmakers are considering the bill presented last week by Yanukovych that would ban jail terms for economic crimes. Western critics claim the charges against Tymoshenko are politically motivated.

A verdict is expected when the trial resumes Oct. 11.

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