KIEV — The top lawyer for jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Monday that he is under criminal investigation and fears imminent arrest. He denied any wrongdoing and accused the government of trying to sideline him.
A criminal case against Tymoshenko's staunch ally Serhiy Vlasenko would likely further sour Ukraine's ties with the West, already strained over Tymoshenko's imprisonment. The West has condemned her seven-year sentence on charges of abuse of office as politically motivated, and the European Union has put on hold a landmark cooperation agreement with Kiev over it.
Vlasenko told reporters Monday that he stands accused of car theft, robbery and failing to obey a court ruling stemming from his divorce several years ago.
Vlasenko dismissed all the accusations as a campaign by Tymoshenko's longtime political foe, President Viktor Yanukovych, to lock him up and leave Tymoshenko without a strong defense. Vlasenko said he expects the Yankukovych-controlled parliament to pass a law stripping him of parliamentary immunity and to be arrested in three weeks.