President Victor Yushchenko’s bloc, Our Ukraine, on Tuesday attacked its main rival at the upcoming parliamentary election by bringing up an issue of jail sentences apparently served by former Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych, Ukrainian journal reported.

The attack focusing on Yanukovych’s jail sentences, apparently in 1969 and 1970, and apparently for robbery and assault, may shatter the party’s rating ahead of the vote, analysts said.

Roman Zvarych, the chief of Our Ukraine’s legal department and former Justice Minister, said his group had filed an inquiry with law enforcement agencies whether Yanukovych’s jail sentences had been canceled legally.

Internal Affairs Minister Yuri Lutsenko confirmed Tuesday that Donetsk prosecutor office had opened a case on possible forgery of documents while canceling the Yanukovych’s jail sentences several years ago.

“The investigation showed the decision had been falsified,” Lutsenko said in an interview with Channel 5. “A secretary that has signed the papers appears to be seven years old at that time. These people are now at large.”

Yanukovych had made little comments on the jail sentences. In his official background letter, submitted to the Central Electoral Commission, Yanukovych has never mentioned any jail sentences.

Ukrainian law does not allow a candidate with a jail sentence to run at an election. If prosecutors prove that Yanukovych’s sentences have been cancelled illegally, he may be expelled from the list of candidates running for a seat in Parliament.

The Regions Party has been leading with 24.7% support in an opinion poll taken by the Razumkov Center think tank between Jan. 12 and Jan. 17, while Our Ukraine has been trailing behind with 15.4%.

Svyatoslav Piskun, a former Prosecutor General that runs for parliamentary seat on the ticket of the Party of Regions, said Our Ukraine’s attacks on Yanukovych is aimed at damaging the party.

“I believe the statement of Zvarych is a dirty trick aimed at discrediting the most popular politician in Ukraine,” Piskun said in a statement released by the Party of Regions.


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