Ukrainian court releases regional official on bail

A court in Kiev released Borys Kolesnikov - a former regional leader and ally of ex-President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. The arrest procreated allegations of political opression by new leaders of the country.

Kolesnikov, the ex-head of the legislature in the eastern Donetsk region, was released on bail, said Kolesnikov's lawyer Andriy Fedur. Kolesnikov, who has been held since April 6, faces charges of abuse of office, extortion and making a death threat.

Kolesnikov's supporters say he was targeted because of his ties with former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who lost last year's bitter presidential election to former opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Yanukovych was questioned by prosecutors earlier this year in connection with the Kolesnikov case.

Kolesnikov is also close to Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's leading coal and steel tycoon, who has had some past business transactions and a 1980s shooting in his native Donetsk region investigated by the authorities.

Yushchenko, who was inaugurated in January, has pledged to root out the corruption he said was rampant during former President Leonid Kuchma's decade-long rule. Yushchenko's government has insisted repeatedly the case against Kolesnikov was not politically motivated, the AP reports.

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