UPDATED: TYMOSHENKO SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS

Kyiv
11.10.11



Tymoshenko in court today during the verdict.

(16.00 Kyiv time)  Ukraine's ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been found guilty of exceeding her powers and causing an almost US$200 million loss to the Ukrainian budget when concluding a gas agreement with Russia in January 2009. She has been sentenced to seven years improsonment, banned from holding public/political office for a period of three years and ordered to repay "damages" caused by the 2009 gas agreement.  Tymoshenko has 15 days to appeal.

The trial has been widely seen as being politically motivated.

Pechersky District Court in Kyiv Judge Rodion Kireyev, the court’s chairman, took four hours to read out his lengthy verdict in court today.

The hearing opened at 9.00 am local time this morning and the sentence was delivered just before 1300 hrs Kyiv time.  

The verdict and its aftermath were broadcast live on Ukraine’s 5 Channel (5 Kanal).

In a statement to journalists during one of the breaks in the courtroom earlier today, Tymoshenko said that she has the strength, faith, determination and duty to stand in defence of Ukraine and to continue her battle against the current "regime", irrespective of court's decision.

Accoring to a report by UNIAN, around 10,000 Tymoshenko supporters converged outside the court.  They were kept in check by "several thousand" members of the militia and special forces. Citing the Official web site of Yulia Tymoshenko the riot police created a wall on Khreshchaytyk street and pushed back people waving flags of BYuT, Batkivshchyna and other opposition groups onto the pavement and towards Independence Square. Police are reported to have used physical force against the people.

In Brussels the High Representative of European Union, Baroness Catherine Ashton issued a statement expressing deep disappointment at the judgment:

"The EU is deeply disappointed with the verdict of the Pechersk District Court in Ukraine in the case of Ms Yulia Tymoshenko. The verdict comes after a trial which did not respect the international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal process which I repeatedly called for in my previous statements. This unfortunately confirms that justice is being applied selectively in politically motivated prosecutions of the leaders of the opposition and members of the former government. It is especially disappointing for a country that currently holds the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The EU urges the competent Ukrainian authorities to ensure a fair, transparent and impartial process in any appeal in the case of Ms Tymoshenko and in the other trials related to members of the former Government. The right of appeal should not be compromised by imposing limitations on the defendants’ ability to stand in future elections in Ukraine, including the parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.

The EU will reflect on its policies towards Ukraine. 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 co-operation more broadly."

The President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, also issued a statement of deep regret on today's sentencing of Tymoshenko along with other European politicians. 

Meanwhile, according to an Interfax-Ukraine news agency report, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Oleh Voloshyn, said that he expects negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union to be concluded as soon as possible, irrespective of today's ruling on Tymoshenko. 

He stated that "the Ukrainian diplomacy has been doing all it can and will be doing all it can to show our European partners that there is competition and pluralistic democracy in Ukraine, and that one particular judicial ruling cannot deny this fact... And we are glad that our European partners have emphasized in their public comments, including today, that they have the same interest...".

The website of Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently focusing on Foreign Minister Hryshchenko's visit to Brussels today.  It cites him as saying that Ukraine and the EU have "never been closer" to signing the Association Agreement and that Ukraine is prepared to do everything in its power to ensure that the agreement is signed before the end of this year.   

President Viktor Yanukovych has not made any comment about the Pechersk District Court ruling.  However, in an interview with a Greek newspaper, "Ethnos tiі Kiriakis", he said that he is "absolutely unconcerned" by the Tymoshenko trial.

The AUGB will be writing to the Ukrainian Ambassador in London later today to express its concerns.

See also:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15250742

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/world/europe/yulia-tymoshenko-sentenced-to-seven-years-in-prison.html

http://www.rferl.org/content/verdict_expected_in_tymoshenko_trial/24355491.html

http://rt.com/politics/court-convicts-former-pm-525/

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/10/11/ukraine-gas-princess-guilty/#axzz1aTJ70XA7



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