BREAKING NEWS: Ukraine’s ex-President Yanukovych sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for high treason

by Hromadske Staff
January 24, 2019
This article originally appeared in Hromadske International

The Obolon District Court in Kyiv during the announcement of ex-president Yanukovych's sentence on January 24. Photo: Vasyl Pekhnyo / HROMADSKE

Yanukovych’s lawyer stated that they will be appealing the verdict with the European Court of Human Rights.

The Obolon District Court in Kyiv has sentenced Ukraine’s fugitive ex-president Viktor Yanukovych guilty of high treason and contributing to an aggressive war against Ukraine. He has been sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment. The court took nearly eight hours to read out the lengthy verdict believed to be around 100 pages long.

Shortly after the sentence was announced, Yanukovych’s lawyer Oleksander Horoshynskiy stated that they will be filing an appeal against the verdict, as well as an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.

Yanukovych – who has been hiding in Russia since he fled there in February 2014 while the Euromaidan protests were in full swing – has been largely ignoring the court hearings that went for over a year, with the last hearing taking place on December 5. His position is that the case is groundless and politically motivated.

During a break in the session on January 24, Yanukovych’s lawyer Oleksandr Baydyk stated that the court has not taken the defense’s arguments into account.

“As you have heard, everything is based on the indictment issued by the prosecution,” he said. “The defense was given a very small amount of time to present their case, this was allocated by the defense. Although, as you know, we’ve been involved in debates for a while now.” 

The former president is reportedly in hospital in Moscow now “recovering after surgery,” Yanukovych’s other lawyer Vitaliy Serdiuk told Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda on January 24.

“He feels ok, he’s recovering. He said: ‘I won’t give up sports!’,” Serdiuk said.

Yanukovych’s alleged surgery was also reported as reason he didn’t make a closing remark during the last hearing in the case on December 5. His lawyers announced that the former president was hospitalized with a “serious injury”  and that the hospital doesn’t have the facilities for a video call.

According to Serdyuk, neither he nor Yanukovych had received an invitation to attend the court session on January 24.

Yanukovych is accused of high treason, aiding the conduction of an aggressive war and deliberate actions committed with the aim of altering the state border of Ukraine. Ukrainian prosecutors previously demanded a maximum punishment of 15 years’ imprisonment for the former president.

Yanukovych is accused of seven other misconducts, including receiving a bribe of around $932,000 guised as honorarium for authoring a book.