KIEV, Oct. 14 – Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s chief presidential campaign strategist announced on Wednesday his resignation amid mounting allegations of his involvement in child molestation.
Viktor Ukolov, a lawmaker who supervised Tymoshenko’s advertising campaign, said he was leaving the post because he did not want to “deteriorate reputation” of his candidate.
“I suspend my involvement in the Ukrainian politics through the end of the presidential campaign,” Ukolov said on his blog late Wednesday. “I don’t want my tainted by lies reputation to deteriorate reputation of my presidential candidate.”
The resignation is a setback for Tymoshenko, who already suffered from earlier case when Viktor Lozynskiy, one of her loyal lawmakers, had been accused of shooting an unarmed man dead in June.
Ukolov said on his blog that he had “escaped” Kiev and is currently living in one of undisclosed villages in Ukraine.
The resignation is part of a growing scandal that may have repercussions on the upcoming presidential campaign as two more lawmakers have been apparently involved in the investigated pedophile case.
The investigation is focusing on the charges that brought against three undisclosed lawmakers that had been involved in molesting children in Artek, the famous youth camp in Crimea.
Ukolov’s name has been mentioned in some media reports citing investigation inquiry, while the names of two other lawmakers have not been disclosed.
Yuriy Lutsenko, the internal affairs minister, said police has received testimony alleging that the three lawmakers have been involved the child molestation case.
“Literally just now we have received testimony from the mother of the children that lawmakers have been involved,” Lutsenko said in an interview with Channel 5.
Lutsenko said the police, which has been investigating the case for the past seven months, has arrested one person, but heard about the lawmakers for the first time.
Lutsenko, who is Tymoshenko’s loyalist, said that he suspected that the case may be politically motivated ahead of the presidential election.
“I am very much concerned that this three-year old case emerges at the beginning of the political season,” Lutsenko said, adding that “the ministry will try to conduct the case in an objective way.”
Lutsenko refused to name the lawmakers that may be involved, and said more evidence will have to be gathered to confirm their alleged guilt.
“The little kids, possibly under external influence, can make a mistake,” Lutsenko said. “They can make a mistake because three years have passed. That’s why in cases like this the law demands to find other evidences.”
Lutsenko himself was arrested at the Frankfurt airport in early May after trying to board a Lufthansa plane and being under influence of alcohol.
Lutsenko, who was later arrested by German police for fighting the crew and police, had later survived the dismissal from the government due to support from Tymoshenko.
This is not the first time that Tymoshenko loyalist lawmakers are accused of serious crimes.
Ukraine’s SBU security service on July 4 launched a nationwide manhunt to capture Lozynskiy, a lawmaker, accused of involvement in a murder in the Kirovohrad region.
Lozynkskiy is accused to shooting to death Valeriy Oliynyk, 55, a villager in the Kirovohrad region, on June 16.
Two of Lozynksiy’s accomplices, Holovanivskiy district prosecutor Yevhen Horbenko and Holovanivskiy district police chief Mykhaylo Kovalskiy, have been detained and are under investigation. (tl/ez)