Ukrainian prosecutors on Thursday asked a court in Kiev to sentence Viktor Yanukovych, the nation’s ousted former president, to 15 years in prison for treason — a fraction of the punishment his former lobbyist, Paul Manafort, potentially faces depending on the outcome of his own financial fraud trial wrapping up in Alexandria, Virginia.
Addressing the court during his trial in absentia, federal prosecutors read a statement seeking a 15-year prison sentence for Mr. Yanukovych, 68, a Kremlin loyalist who fled to Russia after being driven from office in early 2014.
“Viktor Yanukovych betrayed his nation. He betrayed his army. At the most difficult time for the country and the people,” prosecutors said in court, AFP reported.
“Like the last coward he left the country at the mercy of fate and fled into the arms of the aggressor,” prosecutors said. “Without a drop of remorse, in order to please the enemy, he did everything in his power for Ukrainian territory to be seized by the aggressor.”
Mr. Yanukovych has resided in Russia since seeking refuge over four years ago and is unlikely to serve time in a Ukrainian prison. Nonetheless, the largely symbolic prosecution waged against him under the administration of his successor, Petro Poroshenko, highlights tensions between Kiev and Moscow more than four years after Russia responded to the ouster by seizing Crimea — a violation of international law, according to the United Nations — prompting the United States and its allies to impose sanctions.
Mr. Manafort, meanwhile, faces more than 300 years in federal prison if convicted on 10 criminals counts of bank fraud and tax evasion related to money he earned while consulting for clients including Mr. Yanukovych.
President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Mr. Manafort made more than $60 million working for Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians, then “failed to report a significant percentage of it on his tax returns,” lawyers for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office wrote in a court filing last month. Attorneys presented closing arguments in the case earlier this week and deliberations are a jury began deliberations Thursday.