Thursday, August 25, 2016


Ukraine Court Sentences Tymoshenko To Seven Years In Jail

A police officer tries to calm Yulia Tymoshenko as she reacts to the verdict.
A police officer tries to calm Yulia Tymoshenko as she reacts to the verdict.
KYIV -- Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been jailed for seven years and penalized tens of millions of dollars over abuse-of-office charges in a verdict the European Union says could have "profound implications" for relations.

The accusations stem from a 2009 natural-gas deal Tymoshenko signed with Russia.

Judge Rodion Kireyev said Tymoshenko's actions had caused the state damages amounting to 1.5 billion hryvna (some $190 million) and he fined her that amount.

In addition to her prison term, she will be barred from holding a government position for three more years.

As the lengthy verdict was being read out, there was angry reaction from thousands of Tymoshenko's supporters who had gathered outside of the courtroom ahead of the ruling. Hundreds of police, many in riot gear, were deployed in Kyiv's central Pechersk district to prevent violence. (See video below.)

Police said a dozen people were arrested.

'Defend My Good Name'

Tymoshenko compared the verdict to the 1930s purges by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, telling journalists she will file an appeal.

"We will fight and we will defend my good name in court," she said. "And I am confident that the European Court of Human Rights will make a legitimate, lawful decision.

"But today, this court has simply demonstrated that justice has been crushed in Ukraine -- already after the constitution and your rights and freedoms had been crushed -- and nobody in Ukraine can rely on [the court system]."

Tymoshenko -- who came to international prominence as a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution that doomed Yanukovych's first bid to become Ukraine's president -- says the case is part of a political vendetta by Yanukovych, who narrowly defeated her in Ukraine's 2010 presidential election.

European officials were unanimous in declaring the prosecution and conviction politically motivated and a gross miscarriage of the legal process.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a sharply worded statement saying the bloc is "deeply disappointed" with the verdict and asserting the trial did not meet international judicial standards.

"The way the Ukrainian authorities will generally respect universal values and rule of law, and specifically how they will handle these cases, risks having profound implications for the EU-Ukraine bilateral relationship, including for the conclusion of the Association Agreement, our political dialogue, and our cooperation more broadly," the statement read.

WATCH -- Tymoshenko supporters clash with police in Kyiv:
Tymoshenko Supporters Clash With Police In Kyivi
October 11, 2011
Supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko clashed with riot police after a regional court in Kyiv on October 11 sentenced the former Ukrainian prime minister to the maximum penalty of seven years in prison on abuse-of-power charges. The European Union responded by saying the verdict could have "profound implications" on mutual relations.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt posted on Twitter: "We have reacted strongly against the…sentence against Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine. This will endanger the entire relationship."

Before the ruling in Kyiv, the EU was expected to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) deal and the Association Agreement with Ukraine before the end of the year. Those talks will continue, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the pacts would be ratified by the EU.

Speaking to reporters in Frankfurt, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, “We can't just act like nothing has happened and return to daily business.”

“I rely on the European Union finding a consolidated answer, because then Ukraine will understand," he said.

'Selective' Justice

In other reactions, Amnesty International called for Tymoshenko's immediate release, saying she had been convicted of charges that are "not internationally recognizable offenses."

And Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called on Ukraine to demonstrate "the utmost transparency" in the appeals process. He reminded Kyiv that OSCE members "have a duty to uphold the rule of law" and avoid "the selective application of justice."

Ukraine will take over the OSCE chairmanship in 2013.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry deplored the "clear anti-Russian subtext of the entire episode."

It said Moscow "respects…the independence of the judicial system of Ukraine," but notes that "the leadership of many countries and global organizations views the entire judicial process as initiated exclusively on the basis of political motives."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who oversaw the signing of the 2009 gas deal, told reporters, “I don't quite understand why [Tymoshenko] was sentenced to seven years."

But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said Moscow was expressing concern over the verdict because “they got [so] much from that deal that they would have never gotten from anyone else.”

Negative reaction to the verdict also came from Washington, where U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, “We’ve certainly made clear our concerns to the Ukrainian government”:

"The United States is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a politically motivated prosecution," she added. "Her conviction raises serious concerns about the government of Ukraine's commitment to democracy and the rule of law. We urge the government of Ukraine to free Ms. Tymoshenko and other political leaders and former government officials currently in detention."

Yulia Tymoshenko (center), her daughter Yevgenia, and her husband, Oleksandr, react after the verdict is announced.
Yulia Tymoshenko (center), her daughter Yevgenia, and her husband, Oleksandr, react after the verdict is announced.
In the wake of Tymoshenko's sentencing, Kyiv said it might seek a way to mollify international critics.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on October 11 that the verdict "is not the final decision," noting that the defense plans to appeal.

He also said it is still unclear "in the framework of which legislation" the final decision will be made -- an apparent reference to a bill currently in the Ukrainian parliament that could alter the situation surrounding the Tymoshenko trial.

Several versions of the bill offered by the opposition would have decriminalized the acts for which Tymoshenko was convicted, but those versions have been rejected.

Now the Verkhovna Rada is considering a version of the bill submitted by the Yanukovych administration that doesn't make direct reference to the charges against Tymoshenko.

'I Have Doubts'

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek also expressed hope that the law will be amended to ameliorate the Tymoshenko case as it moves through the appeals process.

"I have doubts that this trial was fair, transparent, and truly independent," he said. "Ukraine is a great nation that deserves better. I hope the Criminal Code will be amended soon to be fully compatible with European standards."

Parliamentary deputy Mykola Tomenko, a member of Tymoshenko's party, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service the opposition might boycott upcoming elections if Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko -- detained in a similar investigation -- are not allowed to participate.

And he echoed a call by Tymoshenko for demonstrations.

"The opposition will consider boycotting parliamentary elections if Tymoshenko and Lutsenko are not allowed to participate," he said. "I think that this will lead society to not only write on Facebook, but to be together with us today at the rally. Then, not only 5,000 people will participate, but  50,000 or 500,000. If there will be 50,000, then the situation will be different. So, my proposal is not to sit around surfing the Internet and drinking beer, but to be on the street when one has to protect democracy."

written by Rikard Jozwiak, Ron Synovitz, Robert Coalson, and Richard Solash with contributions from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and agency reports
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Erjan from: Panama
October 11, 2011 12:55
The court decision is too bad for Ukraine's image and for its democratic development. It surely will have many negative consequences in the way the democracy functions in the Ukraine!

by: dubitant from: italy
October 11, 2011 14:13
'I Have Doubts'

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek

"I have doubts that this trial was fair, transparent, and truly independent"

SO ?

You know somethink or not ?

'I Have Doubts' what means this ?

Every time in which is necessary that EU take e political opinion

it go down in its infinite ipocrisy .

OR this TRIAL is no good

or it is GOOD

but mr Buzek , take your doubt in your home , please !

by: Ben
October 11, 2011 16:00
I congratulate the collective of your radio "Svoboda" and particularili V. Portnikov for this long-awaited victory.
In Response

by: John from: UK
October 12, 2011 07:51
You are very misguided if you think this is a victory....or maybe it is.....A victory for Tymoshenko who will now become even stronger. A defeat for Yanakovich...yes !
In Response

by: Erjan from: Panama
October 12, 2011 14:46
The irony of history is that when the politicians do something to improve their own chances, this can turn around and hit them back and .. do well for the opposition. In this case, the court decision will surely increase the popularity of Mrs. Timoshenko. Nevertheless, considering the stability of the democratic institutions in Ukraine, this is no good precedent for Ukraine's future political development.

by: Bohdan A Oryshkevich from: New York City
October 11, 2011 16:12
Ukraine has spiraled downward ever since the end of the Orange Revolution. The inept leadership of President Viktor Yushchenko and the histrionic confrontational premierships and opposition by Prime Minister Tymoshenko led to indifference and disgust among Ukrainian voters. In addition, in his ineptness, President Yushchenko brought Mr. Viktor Yanukovych back to political life in return for his assistance to control his nemesis, Ms. Tymoshenko.

When the presidential elections finally came around in 2010, the electorate selected what was in their mind the least odoriferous of three evils.

Today, we are seeing the current generation of leaders destroying each other and probably taking their country with them. In the last six years, every month has seen a new low. There is no end in sight.

Ukraine, because of centuries of individual and group subservience and division, has no leadership class or tradition. It has no mechanism of having political, scientific, or literary talent rise to the top. Ukrainians and their politicians do not know or recognize the differences between anarchy, demagoguery, authoritarianism, and leadership. It is not part of their ken. Governance is alien to them. Laws are made to be broken or ignored. While Russians generally support Putinism, Ukrainians remain confused as to what they seek in a leader.

It is as if one student from Ukraine put it, Ukraine had to evolve from a leaderless Indian Reservation or Bantustan into a modern nation state with all its necessary functioning components. It is a huge leap forward that will take generations.

In addition, Ukraine has a tiny but insatiably acquisitive (so called business class) that is living off the country without modernizing it. It too is holding the country back. The result is that millions of Ukrainians have emigrated to work and live abroad. Ukraine has, in fact, the worst demographic statistics of any major country in the world.

There is little that the West or the Democrats can do since the so-called Democrats are part of the problem. At the same, this inchoate leadership uses its internal dysfunctionality to prevent economic and political absorption by the Russian Federation.

On the other hand, the West using its best universities can educate a new generation of leaders who will eventually coalesce and hopefully provide a new vision of Ukraine. This is a low key, inexpensive long term strategy. Such an approach may well provide transformative leaders who will have seen the world and benefited from a world class education. Only they will be able to generate a modern vision for Ukraine and eventually hopefully right the course of the country.

But this will take long term and tenacious vision, patience, time and hard work.

We at the USA/USA Program are doing that. Friend us on Facebook.

Bohdan A Oryshkevich,
Founder, USA/USA Program
In Response

by: Jack from: US
October 12, 2011 04:21
"It [the Ukraine] has no mechanism of having political, scientific, or literary talent rise to the top". Actually it does: historically the most literate Ukrainians migrated to Russia where they are free to rise to the top. For example the world classic writer Nikolai Gogol was ethnic Ukrainian with original name "Mykola Hahol" who moved to Russia, changed his name to Russian-sounding Nikolai Gogol, started writing in Russian, and became one of the world's best writers.
More recent example: an Ukrainian "Volodymir Rezun" changed his name to Russian-noble-sounding "Victor Suvorov" and now makes millions $ writing trash about history, all in Russian. If he wrote in Ukrainian under his real name "Rezun" he wouldn't made a penny.

by: Jack from: US
October 11, 2011 17:23
this is not the first nor the last Ukrainian PM who ends up in a can. Welcome to the third world

by: Mark from: Canada
October 11, 2011 18:11
"In other reactions, Amnesty International called for Tymoshenko's immediate release, saying she had been convicted of charges that are "not internationally recognizable offenses."

Let me get this straight - if you push an initiative before your national legislative body and that body not only refuses to approve it, but opposes it and takes the issue off the table, and you then go directly to the head of the company involved and order them on your personal authority to sign the agreement anyway....where is that not an internationally recognized offense? Burkina Faso?

Ms. Tymoshenko previously established a reputation as a politician who was determined to exercise unlimited authority, and it staggers the imagination that any nation should permit that kind of dictatorship and still presume to adhere to the rule of law. You can't have it both ways. Amnesty International should be ashamed of itself for advocating a free pass for Tymoshenko, and the organizations credibility should be judged accordingly. The west's immediate clamoring for Tymoshenko's release is thoroughly predictable, just as the cries of "hang him" would be if it were Yanukovich in the dock.

by: Fred Eidlin from: Lviv
October 12, 2011 03:52
1. Yanukovich said early on in the case that he didn't think she would to to prison. He was also saying that it would be inappropriate for him, as President, to intervene in ongoing judicial proceedings. This, by the way is what any U.S. President or Governor would say if asked to intervene in ongoing judicial proceedings.

2. Yanukovich told EU officials at a meeting in Crimea that the law under which she was charged was a stupid Soviet law, and that it was absurd for Ukrainians to still be living under such a law.

3. Yanukovich said a few days ago: "Europe's concern over the case against ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is due to the imperfect Ukrainian laws" ... "It is certainly a regretful case, which today is thwarting Ukraine's European integration. It raises concerns in the European Union and I want to say: we are well aware of why this is so," The Ukraine that my team got in 2010 "had many problems with modernization and harmonization of the Ukrainian laws with the European standards,"

4. Yanukovich hinted today at possible imminent changes to the law which may benefit former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, convicted on Tuesday of abuse-of-office and sentenced to seven years in jail.

5. Lawyer Valentyna Telychenko has assumed that the Higher Specialized Court on civil and criminal cases would hold a new hearing on the gas case against former Ukrainian Premier Yulia Tymoshenko after it cancels rulings of the first instance court and the court of appeals.

I could, of course, be wrong. But Yanukovich would be stupid to do what people think he is doing. Whether you like him or not, he has undeniably learned how to be a skillful politician. If Mrs. T goes to prison, she will be a hero, and President Y. will look like a devil. It obviously would be a disaster for him and his party. I think he is trying to show the world that he is working towards an independent, non-corrupt judiciary. In the meantime, Mrs. T, her supporters, and all the people in the West who are against Yanukovich, regardless of what he does, are spitting out their venom at him. I suspect that he has a strategy whereby he will make them look like fools, and make himself look like a genuine liberal-democratic statesman.

by: Ethan Zachery Scott from: US
October 12, 2011 06:09
I have a petition that urges the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council to overturn Tymoshenko's sentence.

by: vlad from: us-moldova
October 12, 2011 06:56
Yanukovich just got rid off a next elections rival. 7 years, he can "win" another election. The same Putin did for Khodorkovski.

Weird. Yanukovich has bad relations with Russia and now goes against EU and the US. What is the plan? Looks like Yanukovich becomes Lukashenko #2... Very gloomy future for Ukraine. Ukrainians immigrated much, more will do it.

by: John from: UK
October 12, 2011 07:47
This verdict was a foregone conclusion and I think no one is surprised.The presidend is paranoid in his fear of Tymoshenko as she has the popuraity that he can never command and rightly so.This stupid verdict by a puppet judge has done much damage to Ukraines prospects for EU intigration and Ukraine can not now be taken seriously as democratic society.

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