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Britain, U.S. Concerned Over Ex-Ukraine Prime Minister Arrest

Ukrainian police scuffle amid scuffles as authorities try to restrain supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko outside the courtroom in Kyiv on August 5, when the judge ordered that Tymoshenko be taken into custody.
Britain and the United States have expressed concern over the detention of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by a judge in her ongoing abuse trial.

Britain said it was "very concerned" by the development and warned that an improper trial could harm that country's relations with the European Union.

Earlier, the United States Embassy in Kyiv called on Ukrainian authorities immediately to release Tymoshenko following her arrest during the trial, in which she has frequently expressed contempt for the process and the judge, whom she regards as a "puppet" of political rival President Viktor Yanukovych.

A statement published on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv said Tymoshenko's detention "raised concerns internationally about the application of the rule of law in Ukraine and further contributes to the appearance of politically motivated prosecutions."

Tymoshenko was arrested for contempt of court on August 5 in her ongoing trial on charges of abuse of power. Tymoshenko and her supporters say the trial is a vendetta pursued by Yanukovych.

The case has mobilized support for the former Orange Revolution leader Tymoshenko, sparking angry clashes with authorities on August 5.

Tensions increased on August 7, when about 100 members of the elite Berkut anti-riot police were deployed at the edge of a tent camp set up in central Kyiv by Tymoshenko's supporters.

Western officials and rights activists have warned of backsliding on democratic reforms and respect for rights since Yanukovych, whose fraudulent election sparked the 2004-05 Orange Revolution, defeated Tymoshenko for the presidency in early 2010.

compiled from agency reports

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