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BBC: Tymoshenko on trial in Kiev for abuse of power

24.06.2011    source:

Ukraine’s former prime minister and heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution Yulia Tymoshenko has gone on trial in Kiev for abuse of power.

Ms Tymoshenko has dismissed the charges, which concern natural gas contracts with Russia, as revenge by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych.

She lost the premiership in March 2010 following a vote of no confidence.

Ms Tymoshenko has asked the European Court of Human Rights to decide if the charges are politically motivated.

’Farce and circus’

About 1, 000 of her supporters gathered outside the court in Kiev, which was ringed by police, the AFP news agency reports.

"This is a farce and circus and not a court hearing, " Ms Tymoshenko told the judge, according to AFP.

Investigators say a 10-year gas contract agreed with Russia in January 2009 was ruinous for the Ukrainian economy and that Ms Tymoshenko did not have cabinet approval to sign it.

The charges are not the first to be brought against the former prime minister.

In December, she was charged with misusing 320m euros (£270m; $425m) received by the government in 2009 for the sale of carbon credits.

The US and the EU have condemned the charges against Mrs Tymoshenko and some of her allies as selective prosecution of political opponents.

The charges carry a sentence of seven to 10 years’ imprisonment.

If convicted, Mrs Tymoshenko would be out of contention for parliamentary elections due in October 2012. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2015.

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