Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who was detained on December 26 and taken into custody for two months, could face up to 12 years in prison under charges brought against him by the Prosecutor General's Office, UKRINFORM reported, referring to Radio Liberty.

Three criminal cases were opened against Lutsenko. The former minister has been charged with the illegal employment of his personal driver Leonid Prystupliuk at the Interior Ministry, the provision of an apartment and the assignment of a pension to him, as well as the abuse of office that caused financial damage to the state.

In a court hearing on December 27, Lutsenko said the charges were politically motivated and that he didn't understand them.

"I don't understand what's going on here. Is the court hearing the case which was a premise to arrest me yesterday, or is it a discussion of the case which I was accused of a month ago?" he asked. "I received some documents [from prosecutors] a month ago. Now I cannot understand the logic of the process at all."

Lutsenko's lawyer Ihor Fomin said that as for the third case, he was not aware of the wording of this case opened against the former minister.

The lawyer does not exclude that the case concerns an investigation into the poisoning of former presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.

Radio Liberty reported that Lutsenko had become the seventh representative of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's government who would see in the New Year in jail.

Nearly twenty criminal cases have already been opened against the members of the previous Cabinet of Ministers.

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