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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Rearrest Tymoshenko

KIEV — Authorities rearrested opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko on Saturday, enraging allies who blamed President Leonid Kuchma and raising tensions in Ukraine's political turmoil.

"This happened due to a direct order from Kuchma," said Oleksandr Turchinov, opposition leader and an ally of Tymoshenko. "Another political reprisal against an opposition leader has happened."

Tymoshenko was arrested four days after she had been released by order of a district court.

"The Kiev city court overturned the ruling by the Pechersk district court," Deputy Prosecutor General Mykhailo Obykhod said. "As a result of this the prosecutors … have placed Tymoshenko [back] under arrest."

Tymoshenko's supporters said the higher court's ruling, obtained late Friday, was anti-constitutional and pledged to appeal to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Her new arrest all but shattered the first signs of a tentative truce between opposition groups and Kuchma, whom they blame for the death of kidnapped journalist Georgy Gongadze. Kuchma denies involvement in Gongadze's case.

Prosecutors maintain Tymoshenko should be kept in custody due to the severity of the charges, which include bribery, forgery and smuggling to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars while she headed a gas trading firm in the mid-1990s.

Tymoshenko, until January a deputy prime minister in charge of regulating the notoriously corrupt energy sector, rejects the charges and says they were brought because her efforts to reform the industry upset powerful businessmen close to Kuchma.

Vasyl Onopenko, an independent member of parliament and former justice minister, said prosecutors had acted illegally.

"This is a gross violation of the constitution and of a citizen's rights," he told a news conference organized by Tymoshenko's centrist Batkivshchyna party, which controls 30 of 450 seats in parliament.

Obykhod declined to comment on whether Tymoshenko would be moved back to the grim Lukyanovska prison.

"Her status is not changed because she is in hospital. We have the right and duty to take these measures [holding her under arrest] in various locations," he said.

On Friday, Tymoshenko had met a delegation from the Council of Europe — a democracy forum that carries substantial moral weight in Eastern Europe.

Following her release from prison this week, the anti-Kuchma Forum for National Salvation had considered holding talks with Kuchma, although Kuchma has consistently rejected such moves.

Turchinov said Saturday that all bets were off after the latest arrest.

(Reuters, AP)