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Report Finds Tymoshenko Trial 'Compromised'


Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a sitting of the Higher Administrative Court in Kyiv in February 2010.
A top U.S. law firm's analysis of the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has found that her defense was "compromised to a degree that is troubling under Western standards of due process."

But it said her conviction was supported by the evidence presented during her trial.

Ukraine's government paid for the report by the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom. Its lead author is Gregory Craig, U.S. President Barack Obama's former White House counsel.

The report, dated September 2012, was released on December 13.

The analysis says Tymoshenko was denied legal counsel at "critical stages" and her lawyers were prevented from calling key witnesses.

"The Daily Telegraph" newspaper quoted Craig as saying: "[Tymoshenko] was not allowed to present all the witnesses that we concluded were relevant and material. And prosecutorial evidence was presented during proceedings in court when she was not represented by counsel."

The report says that Tymoshenko's detention throughout her trial was "without adequate justification."

Such findings could help Tymoshenko's pending appeal before the European Court of Human Rights.

In August, the court in Strasbourg, France, held an initial public hearing on the appeal and is still studying the case behind closed doors.

Politically Motivated?

In an interview with "The New York Times," Craig said others must judge if the decision to prosecute was politically motivated.

But the report's authors wrote, "We do not believe that Tymoshenko has provided specific evidence of political motivation that would be sufficient to overturn her [October 2011] conviction under American standards."

In response to a request for comment, the Washington office of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom law firm told RFE/RL to contact FTI Consulting, which they described as a public relations firm retained by the Ukrainian Justice Ministry.

FTI told RFE/RL in an e-mail that it is not representing the Justice Ministry, but is aiding the U.S. law firm. It said, "The firm's position is that the report speaks for itself."
A statement on the Justice Ministry's website describes the report as "independent" and says it is "grateful" to the firm.

Taras Kuzio, an expert on Ukraine and nonresident fellow at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Transatlantic Relations, said the report will not affect the West's reading of the Tymoshenko case.

"I think the report will be quickly forgotten and it will become irrelevant,” Kuzio said. “Everywhere you travel in the Western world, throughout Europe [and] throughout North America, the overwhelming impression and conclusion reached by every government and international organization and human rights organization is that Yulia Tymoshenko and [former Ukrainian Interior Minister] Yury Lutsenko were both sentenced for political crimes."

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison term in eastern Ukraine after being found guilty of abuse of office for brokering a disadvantageous gas deal with Russia in 2009.

"The Daily Telegraph" says the report's authors spent five hours interviewing her while gathering the information for their analysis.

Serhiy Vlasenko, a lawyer for Tymoshenko, told "The New York Times" that the report was biased.

He said the authors were paid by the Ukrainian government and they are not independent.

With reporting by Richard Solash in Washington, "The New York Times," and "The Daily Telegraph"
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