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Transmission

Ukrainian Mayor Warns, 'Hands Off Berlusconi!'

A combo photo shows a banner of Ukraine's jailed former leader Yulia Tymoshenko displayed on the Capitolini Museum in Rome (left) and a giant poster depicting former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Kharkiv.
A combo photo shows a banner of Ukraine's jailed former leader Yulia Tymoshenko displayed on the Capitolini Museum in Rome (left) and a giant poster depicting former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Kharkiv.
An expression of support for Ukraine's jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by Rome's mayor this week has sparked a response in kind in Kharkiv, where Tymoshenko is serving her sentence.

After Mayor Gianni Alemanno put up a large banner saying "Freedom for Yulia Tymoshenko" outside his office on Rome's Capitol Hill on November 26, Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes responded with a banner of his own.

On November 28, a giant banner showing former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with prison bars superimposed over his face was mounted on the Kharkiv city council building with text saying: "Hands off Berlusconi! Because of him Italy lost millions. Rome city hall, support not only Ukraine's [leader] but also your prime minister!"

Yuriy Sydorenko, the Kharkiv mayor's spokesman, said Keres "looked carefully at what happened the day before yesterday in Rome, heard the call of the mayor of Rome on the mayors of other cities to support political prisoners, and decided to support Italy's own political prisoner, ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in this way.

"The Berlusconi case was considered an economic one in court, like Tymoshenko's one was. Italy lost millions of euros, which were stolen from the taxpayer. Ukraine is also losing money on the Tymoshenko gas agreements. Tymoshenko calls her case political, just as Berlusconi calls his case political."

"We decided to call on our colleagues from the Rome mayor's office to be consistent and support not only the Ukrainian ex-prime minister, but their own ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, too.

"What's more, we think that you shouldn't meddle in Ukraine's internal affairs. You see that such cases are taking place not just with Berlusconi, but there is a criminal investigation of the [former] president of France, [Nicolas] Sarkozy. Everyone should mind their own country, and not pressure others."

Tymoshenko, who was 52 on November 27, was taken to a prison in the city of Kharkiv in December 2011 to serve her seven-year term for abuse of office in relation to a natural-gas deal with Russia, but has been receiving treatment at a hospital in the same city since May.

Tymoshenko and her supporters say the charges are politically motivated. The European Union and the United States have condemned her jailing as selective justice. She also faces trial for tax evasion and embezzlement, and prosecutors have suggested they intend to indict her for complicity to murder in the 16-year-old case of a slain parliamentarian and his wife.

Berlusconi is appealing a four-year prison sentence for tax evasion, while also still considering a political comeback in elections expected to be held in March.

-- Dan Wisniewski

Tags: Yulia Tymoshenko

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by: Anonymous
November 29, 2012 17:31
interesting parallels.
if tax evasion and murder are only politically motivated charges why bother at all with a judicial system. despite ukraine's background regarding corruption and the conflict between Tymoshenko and her political rivals, it's not only a dicey situation but a really intriguing question whether she was involved in targeted killings and tax fraud or not.
Berlosconi, Sarkozy, Chirac, Olmert, and many others, politicians around the globe by the way are /have been involved in nepotism, etc. Why only apply certain standards in some places with some people. Even the U.S. courts could bring some people to justice with respect to the financial crisis.
...SO why all this victimization of Tymoshenko? Still, a fair trial should be respected. yet, fairness in authoritarian regimes is already antinomic.
Nice way of bringing attention to various perspectives.
In Response

by: mykry
November 29, 2012 21:33
It's not just Tymoshenko. Former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, former Justice Minister Korniychuk and several other opposition leaders, who were all allied with Tymoshenko, are now sitting in jail.

Is this a coincidence? Hardly. It's the use of criminal law as a tool of political oppression.

Even former president Yushchenko was questioned and thought he may be arrested. It is speculated that he cut a deal for his freedom by not criticizing current president Yanukovych. Yushchenko's actions are clearly evidenced in this respect.

by: mykry
November 29, 2012 17:35
Tax evasion is one thing. Signing a 'bad' deal is quite another. At which point would the gas deal be considered not an 'abuse of office'---$420 / c.m.? Or maybe $380? $350? $250?

Also, the fact that Russia's attempt to pressure Ukraine into submission and not lower the price must also be considered. Otherwise, a new agreement would have been re-negotiated a long time ago.

Tymoshenko is a political prisoner. Period.

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 29, 2012 22:27
'abuse of office' is if you dont have power for do contract

not price

by: UKR FAN from: Canada
November 30, 2012 04:02
Isn't it wonderful that Yanukovych is such an outstanding PM. That is his opinion of himself only,the rest of his minions live in fear.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 30, 2012 15:50
:-)))))))))))))))) Excellent!!!!!!!!!! Well, what can I say, after all, one has to admit - the Party of Regions really helped the Ukraine to attract into govt positions some of those leaders who can do what needs to be done: to just spit on the cheap negative propaganda of the Euro-bankrupt losers and of the primitive and ignorant Beavuses and continue living normal lives, free of the EU, NATO, US and other unnecessary bankrupt crap :-)). Good job, Hennadiy KerMes (and not "Keres", as the article says)!
By the way, for those interested in Ukrainian politics - and as long as we are talking about Kharkiv - here is a nice video of the former mayor of the city Michail Dobkin :-))): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3z2wheJWyk
In Response

by: RFE/RL Editors
November 30, 2012 16:14
Aha, well the source we had did get it wrong, although it's not Kermes either, but Kernes. Much thanks for your tireless reading of the website!

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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