"New case is trickery. Russia, in fact, let Ukraine off this debt for the sake of friendly and peaceful relations," Ivashov said, UNIAN reports.
According to him, the main role in United Energy Systems case was played not by the Defense Ministry of Russia, but by the Russian government headed by Viktor Chernomyrdin back then. Chernomyrdin cut the budget of Russian army and told the military to get back Ukraine's gas debts with construction materials.
Ivashov noted that in this way the debts of UESU were transferred to the Defense Ministry. The colonel-general also informed that he personally took part in the negotiations between defense ministers and PMs of both countries.
According to him, Ukraine offered its overpriced goods as payment for gas. "In fact we were proposed to buy ordinary toilet bowls at the price of golden ones," Ivashov said and added that despite this Russia agreed to these conditions.
Ivashov pointed out that later, during the investigation, the head of Defense Ministry budget department Georgiy Oleinik was sentenced for such expensive purchases and served almost 4 years in prison. "The conflict was closed and Russia, in fact, discharged Tymoshenko and other officials off the debts," he said.
He reminded that the case against Tymoshenko was instituted during the trial over Oleinik, but at the beginning of 2000 was closed.
In response to the question where the letter with demand to return 405 million dollars comes from, Ivashov said: "The case is closed but the question remains. The Defense Ministry just wanted to earn some money, not within the consideration of criminal case, but in the frameworks of military-economic relations."
At the same time he noted that "the debt of the United Energy Systems is still on the table, as there is no official document, which proves the debts were discharged."
Ivashov also noted that if Russia really wanted to get the money back, it would have initiated the case consideration in international courts. "Today Russia does not want to go back to this case," he believes.
Ivashov does not exclude that in fact Russia wants not to get the money back, but to influence the gas talks.
Besides, Ivashov believes that Georgiy Oleinik, convicted for UESU debts, just got into hot water. "He was ordered to sign these documents. I saw his chief shouting at him, when Oleinik refused to buy goods at crazy prices. But in the end then government of Russia forced him," Ivashov said.
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