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The daughter of Ukraine's jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on Monday accused the authorities of wanting to kill her mother, who faces a possible life sentence.
Her lawyer announced that he also faced criminal charges.
Prosecutors on Friday named the 52-year-old opposition politician, who is already serving a seven-year sentence on abuse of power charges, as a suspect in the 1996 murder of a powerful lawmaker.
If tried and convicted of the new charge of organising the gangland-style shooting, the former premier could spend the rest of her life in prison.
In an emotional appeal on Monday, Tymoshenko's daughter Yevgenia, 32, warned that her mother's life was in danger and appealed to Yanukovych and law enforcers to ensure her safety.
“Everything that is happening to her is an experiment to destroy a person. For me it is absolutely clear that they want to kill my mother.”
“They do not want her to live,” she said in a statement, referring to the Ukrainian authorities led by President Viktor Yanukovych.
“We are talking about the physical, conscious killing of my mother, Yulia Tymoshenko,” she said in the statement released by Tymoshenko's party and addressed to Yanukovych and other officials.
“I do not even insist that you follow some sort of rules or law because right now the rules and laws do not work. I am asking you all just for one thing - do not kill my mother,” she wrote.
In a sign that officials were ramping up pressure against the wayward politician, her lead defence lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko, announced Monday that officials had opened criminal probes against him, too.
“It looks like I will be arrested in three weeks,” Vlasenko, who is also a lawmaker, told reporters, adding that he would also be stripped of his parliamentary immunity.
Vlasenko said he was being accused of failing to implement a court order on dividing up property with his former wife and could also face assault charges that carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
He denies any wrongdoing.
Tymoshenko is being treated in a hospital outside her prison for back pain. She has launched several hunger strikes in protest at her treatment and at electoral fraud.
Tymoshenko was controversially sentenced to a seven-year jail term in 2011 amid Western outrage.
The abuse of power charges were brought shortly after she lost a bitter presidential election contest against her arch foe Yanukovych in 2010.
She is also being tried in a separate tax evasion case.
Prosecutors have accused Tymoshenko and her close ally, former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko of paying $2.8 million to a contract killer to eliminate lawmaker Yevgen Shcherban.
Tymoshenko's defence has denied her involvement and called the charges political.
In an apparent bid to pre-empt a new wave of outrage from Europe, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka on Sunday met European and US diplomats to inform them of the new charges against Tymoshenko.
“There is no political subtext here,” he told the diplomats in remarks released by his office.
The prosecution also released a video showing an apparently calm Tymoshenko being read her murder charges at her hospital.
Several dozen Tymoshenko supporters rallied near Yanukovych's offices earlier Monday, while her husband, who has been granted political asylum in the Czech Republic, called on Ukrainians to defend the ex-prime minister.
Olexander Tymoshenko said that by opening a new criminal case against his wife the authorities showed that they were “on the brink of complete madness.”
“Yulia Tumoshenko defended you - the time has come to defend her,” he said in remarks released by her party.
“Tomorrow they will come after you.” - Sapa-AFP