Ukraine prime minister summoned by prosecutors

Ukraine's prime minister has been summoned by prosecutors for questioning, officials said Monday, in the latest chapter of her power struggle with the president ahead of 2010 elections.

Once partners in the 2004 Orange Revolution, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko have turned into bitter rivals. Their tug-of-war struggle has ruined their Western-oriented coalition and put the county on the brink of its third parliamentary election in as many years.

The circumstances of Tymoshenko's subpoena were unclear.

Olha Ivaniv, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office, said the prime minister is to be questioned Thursday as a witness in the investigation into the 2004 nearly lethal poisoning of Yushchenko.

But Tymoshenko, speaking to reporters Monday, suggested she was being summoned in response to the president's accusations that she had committed high treason in support of Russia.

Yushchenko, who firmly condemned Russia's war with Georgia last month, has accused Tymoshenko of siding with Moscow in the conflict. He also charges that her cooperation with the Russia-friendly opposition party harms Ukraine's national interests.

Yushchenko's office charged in late August that Tymoshenko's actions showed signs "of high treason and political corruption" and said it was handing over materials implicating her to law enforcement agencies.

The president's office also claimed the Kremlin was considering financing Tymoshenko's election campaign in exchange for her taking a more moderate position on Georgia. Russian officials have denied interfering in Ukrainian politics.

Tymoshenko has repeatedly denied those accusations. She says she supports Georgia's territorial integrity, but does not want her country to be dragged into any conflicts.

Yushchenko fell gravely ill during the 2004 presidential campaign and was later diagnosed with dioxin poisoning, which badly scarred his face. A nearly four-year investigation has failed to identify a single suspect. Yushchenko has accused a close friend of involvement and said Russia was stalling the probe.

[Source: AP, International Herald Tribune, Kiev, Ukr, 09Sep08]

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