Ukraine expects to start Yanukovych treason trial in early March

By bne IntelliNews January 27, 2017

The trial in absentia of Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych, who was  indicted for state treason for facilitating Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2014, could begin in March, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in Kyiv on January 27.

"From March, on screens across the whole country, an open, impartial and fair trial of the person we suspect in the commission of treason by signing a letter that allowed [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to enter the Crimea and then Donbas," Lutsenko said while addressing students of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the country's TV5 channel reported.

The pre-trial investigation is almost complete and the case materials will be passed to  Yanukovuch's defence, the prosecutor added.

Earlier, a court in Kyiv satisfied the motion of state officials to be permitted to carry out the pre-trial investigation in the defendant's absence. Yanukovych has been living in Russia since leaving Ukraine in late February 2014.

The deposed leader has been indicted for state treason following his questioning last year by video conference in a case against ex-special police force members over killings at the Euromaidan protests in the capital in 2016.

Yanukovych fled the country after around 100 protesters were shot dead in central Kyiv at the end of weeks of protests in the city centre. Two and a half years since he was ousted for running a kleptocratic administration, Ukraine's prosecutors have yet to bring a single charge against any high-level official of the former regime.

Yanukovych said during the court hearings in 2016 that he left Ukraine in February 2014 to prevent a civil war in the country. The former president also rejected accusations that he had given an order to use force against anti-government protesters in Kyiv in 2013-2014.

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