Former Ukraine Defense Minister, Tymoshenko Ally Jailed For Five Years

April 12, 2012
A former Ukrainian defense minister who served under jailed opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been sentenced to five years in prison on abuse of office charges.
The Kiyv district court sentenced Valeriy Ivashchenko on April 12 for overseeing a land-privatization deal that allegedly cost the state budget nearly $10 million.
Ivashchenko said he considers the sentence "illegal and unfair."
His co-defendant received a three-year jail term.
Ivashchenko served as acting defense minister between June 2009 and March 2010.
He was arrested in August 2010 and has since been held in custody.
Tymoshenko, who helped lead the 2004-05 Orange Revolution and lost a presidential runoff to the current president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2010, is currently serving a seven-year prison term for abuse of office. She denies the charges and suggests they're politically motivated, as do numerous rights groups and Western governments.
Ivashchenko is the third former member of Tymoshenko's government sentenced to prison on similar charges.
Also on April 12, an Italian court released from custody another Tymoshenko ally, Arsen Avakov, and put him under house arrest.
Avakov, accused of misappropriating land, was arrested in Italy at Ukraine's request last month.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP and UNIAN