September 17, 2012 - 15:12 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A former Ukrainian security officer has claimed to possess a covertly recorded tape implicating jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the 1996 murder of prominent politician Yevhen Shcherban, RIA Novosti reported citing Kommersant Ukraina paper.
The tapes, allegedly recorded in the offices of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, suggest that Tymoshenko paid for the murder, Mykola Melnychenko told a news conference in Washington last week.
Melnychenko said he is willing to hand the tapes over to prosecutors.
Tymoshenko has dismissed any link with the murder.
One of the protagonists of Ukraine's West-leaning 2004 Orange revolution was jailed for seven years in October last year for overstepping her authority as prime minister in signing a 2009 gas deal with Russia, in what she described as a case of political persecution.
Former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who is named in the tapes as organizer of the killing, has previously said he had "nothing to do with that crime."
Shcherban, a powerful businessman, was shot dead with his wife at an airport in eastern Ukraine. Melnychenko also said that while in Prague his summer he was approached by Tymoshenko's relatives, who asked him to level his accusations against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Tymoshenko's arch foe.
Tymoshenko's Batkyvshchyna party has said "Melnychenko's statement regarding the murder of Yevhen Shcherban was prepared on the orders of the presidential administration."
Melnychenko, who is wanted by Ukrainian authorities, had earlier released tapes which allegedly implicated Kuchma in the killing of an investigative journalist in 2000, a charge that the former president was cleared of in January this year.