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Ukraine’s Yulia Tymoshenko sentenced to seven years in jail

Andrew Osborn, The Daily Telegraph
Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, has been found guilty of abuse of office and sentenced to seven years in jail…

In a politically-tinged verdict that is likely to badly damage the country’s relationship with the European Union and the United States, the presiding judge said Mrs Tymoshenko had “criminally” exceeded her powers in 2009 when she was the country’s prime minister.

More specifically, he said that she had illegally concluded a gas deal with Russia that had lost the Ukrainian treasury the equivalent of £118 million pounds and damaged Ukraine’s own gas industry…

The ruling will cause fury in the EU and the United States where top politicians have agreed with Ms Tymoshenko’s own assessment of the trial as politically-motivated revenge…
(11 October 2011)

Putin Warns on Tymoshenko Verdict

Anatoly Medetsky, Moscow Times
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned that a Ukrainian court’s decision to convict former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Tuesday over a gas trade deal she brokered with Russia could endanger energy ties between the two countries.

A Kiev court sentenced Tymoshenko to seven years in jail for exceeding her authority in shepherding through a contract to end a bitter dispute that left parts of Europe freezing in the dead of the winter almost three years ago.

The January 2009 deal that forced Ukraine’s energy company Naftogaz to pay Gazprom a steep price is in “full compliance” with Russian, Ukrainian and international law, Putin said during a visit to Beijing. He warned that it was “dangerous and counterproductive” to question the agreement.

The Foreign Ministry echoed his comments, stating in response to the verdict that the Kiev court ignored “compelling evidence” in favor of the contract’s legal impeccability.

“We can’t fail to note the obvious anti-Russian subtext in this whole story,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “As a matter of fact, Tymoshenko went on trial for legally binding agreements … that are in force and that nobody voided…
(12 October 2011)

Ukraine scores own goal for Russia

M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times Online
Along the midriff of Eurasia, an engrossing battle of wits may have begun that could phenomenally transform the post-Soviet space. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recent call for forming a Eurasian Union now seems more like a prescient call of the bugle.
The seven-year sentence handed down on Tuesday to Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine, by the district court in Kiev holds the potential to become a turning point in post-Soviet politics. Ukraine has always been the great fault line in Eurasian politics. The “Orange” revolution of 2005 made that abundantly clear.

How the endgame over the demise of the “Orange” revolution plays out in the coming months will determine a host of issues, which include Russia’s integration processes in the post-Soviet space and the surge of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the territories of the former Soviet Union…

Tymoshenko has been found guilty of misusing her office as prime minister in negotiating Ukraine’s January 2009 gas deal with Russia…

But then, Yanukovich is a shrewd politician and he would know that nothing is a final word in politics. He is still keeping Brussels on tenterhooks by hinting that an overhaul of the criminal code under which Tymoshenko was put on trial may be underway. On the other hand, he would also like to know what the EU could give him in return.

Yanukovich would have sized up that the Tymoshenko issue does not agitate domestic public opinion. The majority opinion in Ukraine seems to be that the charges against the iconic figure of the “Orange” revolution are probably justified. People know she is a billionaire child of the days of “wild capitalism” in the 1990s when in the debris of the Soviet Union’s collapse and by exploiting the general lawlessness, Ukraine’s newly rich made fortunes out of state property – often enough off Ukraine’s import of Russian natural gas.

The apathy of the people toward Tymoshenko’s fate underlines the public awareness that the “Orange” revolution was not a revolution at all, but in reality a game of musical chairs between Ukrainian millionaires and billionaires. The West thought it won Ukraine’s soul while Moscow’s able ambassador in Kiev, Viktor Chernomyrdin (former Russian prime minister and the grey cardinal of Russia’s energy politics) probably had the last laugh – historically speaking…
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
(12 October 2011)