FORMER UKRAINIAN PM, YULIA TYMOSHENKO ARRESTED

05.08.11


BBC. A Ukraine judge has ordered that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko be taken into custody during her trial on charges of abuse of office.

Police escorted Ms Tymoshenko out of the courtroom, prompting her supporters to shout "Shame!" and scuffle with police.

The judge has accused Ms Tymoshenko of repeated violations of court rules, including impeding proceedings.

Ms Tymoshenko says the charges against her are politically motivated.

She is accused of illegally agreeing a 10-year contract to buy natural gas from Russia, which investigators say meant Ukraine was forced to buy gas at prices that were ruinous for its economy.

Until now, Ms Tymoshenko had been required to remain in Kiev but had not been placed in detention.

Court proceedings have been adjourned until Monday.

This was the second time the prosecution had requested that Ms Tymoshenko be arrested for improper conduct, after the judge turned down a similar request last week.

Ms Tymoshenko has refused to stand up while addressing the judge as is required, reports say. She has also repeatedly insulted him and questioned his objectivity during the trial, and her supporters have also repeatedly disrupted hearings.

The prosecution had accused Ms Tymoshenko of failing to take the trial seriously and mocking the judge and witnesses - who have included current Prime Minister Mykola Azarovin - in comments posted on her Twitter account inside the courtroom, another report said.

As Ms Tymoshenko was being led away in handcuffs by police, her supporters - who include national lawmakers - clashed with riot police, trying to prevent them from driving her away.

Ukrainian media report she was being taken to the Lukyanovskoye remand prison.

One of Ms Tymoshenko's lawyers, Sergei Vlasenko, called her detention "unprecedented and illegal", reported AFP news agency, while a key aide vowed to bring "hundreds, thousands" on to the streets in her support.

Ms Tymoshenko, the country's top opposition leader, has criticised her trial as an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovych to bar her from elections.

The US and EU say the charges against Mrs Tymoshenko and some of her allies constitute selective prosecution of political opponents.

Mrs Tymoshenko was one of the central figures in the Orange Revolution of 2004, which overturned Mr Yanukovych's fraud-tainted presidential election victory.

She was prime minister briefly in 2005, and then again from 2007 to 2010. However, she was defeated by Mr Yanukovych in last year's presidential election. 

Ms Tymoshenko - pictured here before her arrest - addresses the media in front of the court building on Friday

Note:  This story is now being run by all main news agencies.

 



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