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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 01:46 GMT
Ukraine opposition leader arrested
Protests in Kiev
Ongoing protests against government
The former Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko, has been arrested in the capital, Kiev, on corruption charges.

Prosecutors accused Mrs Tymoshenko of giving $79m in bribes to the disgraced former premier, Pavlo Lazarenko.

Yuliya Tymoshenko
New charges of alleged bribery
She is a leading figure among opposition groups calling for the resignation of President Leonid Kuchma over his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist, Georgiy Gongadze.

Responding to the campaign to remove him from office, Mr Kuchma appealed for calm and warned that ''all legal means'' would be used to control unrest.

Conspiracy

Mrs Tymoshenko, 40, was arrested during questioning at the chief prosecutor's office, a spokesman for her opposition Fatherland party said.

''The decision was taken to stop her from evading investigation,'' the deputy chief prosecutor, Mykola Obykhod, said.

Leonid Kuchma
Mr Kuchma is under pressure to resign
Mr Lazarenko is now in jail in the United States on charges of conspiring to launder millions of dollars.

Mrs Tymoshenko who had special responsibility for the energy sector, was sacked by Mr Kuchma after the prosecutor general accused her of corruption in mid-January.

At that time, she was charged with illegally exporting huge amounts of Russian natural gas and hiding more than $1 billion in profits in 1996. She has denied the charges.

'Psychological war'

Mr Kuchma was joined by the prime minister, Viktor Yushchenko, and the parliamentary speaker, Ivan Plyushch, in his appeal which said the demonstrations were a threat to national security.

Georgiy Gongadze
Georgiy Gongadze exposed corruption
They said an ''unprecedented political campaign featuring psychological war'' had been unleashed against the state.

The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been the scene of demonstrations calling for Mr Kuchma's resignation.

The demonstrators, some of whom have been camping out in a tent city along Kiev's main street, claim that Mr Kuchma is responsible for Mr Gongadze's death.

EU delegation

Audio tapes smuggled out of the country by a former presidential bodyguard appear to show Mr Kuchma ordering officials to get rid of Mr Gongadze - but Mr Kuchma says they have been edited to distort his words.

''The disappearance of journalist Georgiy Gongadze and the so-called tape scandal have been used as a reason for social disruption,'' the Ukrainian leaders said in their statement, which was read on television.

Earlier in the day, a senior delegation from the European Union held talks with President Kuchma on the Gongadze case.

"The EU delegation will be pressing for a transparent investigation of the Gongadze case," one of the delegation's members, Christine Gallach, said beforehand.

Swedish statement

EU officials stressed that the partnership agreement between the EU and Ukraine has a clear clause on the respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Last week, Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, issued a strongly worded statement asking Ukraine to ensure that journalists can work safely and without harassment.

But while Britain and Germany supported Sweden's stance, it is unclear if all 15 EU governments would agree to firmer measures.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clare Lyons
"Many analysts say the President is unlikely to go soon"
See also:

13 Feb 01 | Europe
EU team quizzes Kuchma
12 Feb 01 | Europe
Kuchma wins Russia's support
14 Feb 01 | Media reports
Ukraine's leaders appeal to the nation
11 Feb 01 | Europe
Analysis: Kuchma under pressure
12 Feb 01 | Europe
Ukraine crisis timeline
10 Jan 01 | Europe
Headless journalist 'identified'
29 Nov 00 | Media reports
Death, lies and audiotape - Ukraine-style
19 Sep 00 | Media reports
Outspoken Ukraine journalist missing
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ukraine
13 Feb 01 | Business
Analysis: Ukraine's economy
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