Police summon Ukraine's former prime minister for more questioning

Authorities in western Ukraine on Thursday summoned former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich for questioning amid growing pressure on the one-time presidential candidate.

The Interior Ministry said that its Ivano-Frankivsk office delivered the summons to Yanukovich's former campaign headquarters in the Ukrainian capital, ordering him to appear for questioning on Monday, but Yanukovich's office denied receiving it.

"Neither Viktor Yanukovich, nor his lawyer nor any relatives" have received the summons, said a statement posted on Yanukovich's Web site. Yanukovich's spokesman referred all questions to the statement.

The latest summons concerns a plot of land in a forest reserve that police say Yanukovich received illegally to build a country house on.

Yanukovich has said that he had no intention of going to Ivano-Frankivsk to face questions. Yanukovich acknowledged that some land in the region was offered to him, but said that he never saw it and doesn't even know precisely where it is located.

On Monday, Yanukovich spent more than three hours in a Kiev police station being quizzed as part of a separate investigation into the mishandling of government funds. He is accused of illegally transferring 4.8 million hryvna (US$950,000; Ђ740,000) from the state budget to the airport in his hometown of Donetsk. He has denied the transfer involved any wrongdoing, and was not charged with anything.

Yanukovich's victory in last year's election was thrown out due to election fraud after mass pro-democracy protests dubbed the Orange Revolution; the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko won the court-ordered revote.

Yanukovich has accused Yushchenko of waging a political vendetta against his foes. The former prime minister is also under investigation for the use of budget funds to reward some of Ukraine's Olympic athletes and for allegedly fostering calls of separatism during last year's election. He has said all the charges are part of efforts to cripple the opposition ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.


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