Yulia Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian Prime Minister was sent to prison
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was found guilty of abuse of authority by signing gas contracts with Russia in 2009.
Mrs Tymoshenko claimed the charges against her were politically motivated.
In April, the Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office opened a criminal case charging Yulia Tymoshenko with signing overpriced gas deals with Russian energy provider Gazprom that inflicted damages to the country of more than 1.5 billion hryvnas (almost $190 million at the current exchange rate) and which Yulia Tymoshenko had allegedly no right to sign.
Yulia Tymoshenko rejected multiple times all the charges against her, calling the trial a “farce” and naming the judge a “stooge of (President Viktor) Yanukovych’s administration” appointed to “fabricate” the case.
Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to prison for seven years. Judge Rodion Kireyev said the former prime minister would also have to pay back the money lost by the state gas company as a result of the deal. In addition to that, she was banned from political office for three years.
As the verdict was read out, Mrs Tymoshenko spoke over the judge, saying she would fight to defend her honest name. She said she would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
“We will fight and defend my good name in the European court,” she said. “We have to be strong and defend Ukraine from this authoritarianism.”
When the judge finished the verdict, all supporters in the courtroom cried “Shame!”
“Dear friends, I just want to say that I disagree with this verdict and I am saying that the year 1937 is back again,” Yulia Tymoshenko said in the courtroom on Tuesday, making a reference to Josef Stalin’s rule when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.
The US and the EU have condemned the charges as selective prosecution of political opponents.
European officials suggested that jailing Mrs Tymoshenko would be a serious blow to the country’s hopes of integration with the European Union.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the nation’s 2009 natural gas agreements with Ukraine were legal.
“We follow the principle that (Yulia) Tymoshenko’s trial must be fair and unbiased and meet all of the requirements of Ukrainian legislation, with the possibility of defense and compliance with the fundamental humanitarian standards and rules,” according to a ministry statement.