KIEV, Oct 11: Ukraine today jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for seven years over a 2009 gas deal, sparking accusations of totalitarianism and threatening its ambition of joining the European Union.
Amid emotional scenes in the packed court in central Kiev, judge Rodion Kireyev said the 10-year contract for gas imports from Russia signed in 2009 had sustained heavy losses for Ukraine and was criminally motivated.
“The court rules that Y.V. Tymoshenko intentionally used her powers to criminal ends,” Kireyev said in his judgement. “The court finds her guilty and sentences her to seven years in prison.”
Tymoshenko, her blonde hair plaited intricately around her head and wearing an immaculate beige dress, defiantly shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” to her supporters in the court, who proclaimed “Glory to the Heroes! in response.
“We will fight and defend my good name in the European court. We have to be strong and defend Ukraine from this authoritarianism. Today the court showed that the justice system has been crushed. Fight, be together, be strong.”
The European Union swiftly warned that the trial had endangered the chances of signing an Association Agreement with Ukraine, a key goal of President Viktor Yanukovych which would mark a first step towards membership.
The trial “risks having profound implications for the EU-Ukraine bilateral relationship, including for the conclusion of the Association Agreement,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement. AFP