'Gas princess' appears for pre-trial hearing (updated)

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June 24, 2011, 11:10 a.m. | Politics — by Reuters

Yulia Tymoshenko appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing over charges of abuse on power on Friday.


Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko used a pre-trial hearing on Friday to attack President Viktor Yanukovich, alleging he was behind a crooked court action that was certain to convict her of abuse of power. The case involving Tymoshenko, twice prime minister and now in opposition, has raised concerns by Western governments over Yanukovich's commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Hemmed in by TV cameraman and journalists in the tiny Kiev courtroom, the 50-year-old political firebrand called on all her oratorical skills as she denounced the hearing as an arranged "farce" and told the judge he was a Yanukovich "puppet".

"At such an important moment for Ukraine, I do not want in that chair a judge like you. I am throwing down this objection to you because I consider you a puppet of the presidential administration," she told judge Rodion Kyreyev.

Kyreyev at times appeared harassed in the face of the verbal barrage from Tymoshenko who has been charged over a 2009 gas supply agreement with Russia when she was prime minister.

But, after deliberating, he subsequently over-ruled Tymoshenko's objection.

However, it was Yanukovich, who defeated her in a bitter fight for the presidency in February 2010, who was the main person in her sights, though.

"The very judicial system which is now in the private hands of Yanukovich and his inner circle does not allow any citizen of Ukraine a chance of justice from the courts," she said.

Outside the court she told reporters: "This mock trial was organised and served up by Viktor Yanukovich.

Nobody has any doubts that the courts and the state prosecution are in private hands and there will be no justice."

Tymoshenko complained of political persecution to the European Court of Human Rights ahead of the trial.

Though Western governments have not come down publicly on her side, diplomats say visiting EU politicians have told the Yanukovich leadership that they are concerned over the possible use of "selective justice" in Ukraine.

With her trademark peasant-style hair braid and combative manner, she is still popular across Ukraine and she brought thousands of supporters out in central Kiev on Friday.


The hearing was called to decide whether to send Tymoshenko for trial for abuse of power over the 2009 gas supply agreement.

The prosecution alleges that she, without consulting her government, forced the then head of Naftogaz to sign the gas deal with Russia's Gazprom.

She denies this.

The agreement ended a stand-off between Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbour over the pricing of Russian gas which had led to supplies being cut off to Western Europe.

It has since been denounced by the Yanukovich leadership as a sell-out, though Kiev is continuing to observe it.

Tymoshenko became known as the "gas princess" in the late 1990s as owner of a company which bought and sold Russian gas.

Since losing to Yanukovich, she has failed to unify the opposition around her.

Supporters who massed in central Kiev carried slogans that read: "We will defend Ukraine ! Down with puppet courts! We are for Yulia, for Ukraine!.

Tetyana Borik, 47, from Poltava, 350 km (220 miles) east of Kiev, said: "I believe that the case against Tymoshenko is political. It is not her who is guilty but (former president Viktor) Yushchenko."

Tymoshenko came to power, serving as prime minister for two terms, following street disturbances called the Orange Revolution in 2004 which doomed Yanukovich's first attempt to secure the presidency.

Yushchenko subsequently became president with Tymoshenko as prime minister but the two fell out over style and policy.

"I am ashamed to live in this country. I want justice. I want to express support for a leader of whom those in power are afraid," said Igor Zakharenko, 50, another Tymoshenko supporter.
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Anonymous June 24, 2011, 11:27 a.m.    

Imagine how difficult is was for the judge to be told directly to his face that he is a "puppet" of Yanuk. I can only say that Yulia is correct and imagine what the thoughts were of the people inside the court room? I really wonder who is on trial, is it Yulia or is it the government and the Clown? Yulia has manage to turn everything around but Yanuk is really to be blame for the events that are taking place now in Ukraine. He thought he put Yulia in front of a court which is control by him and instead Yulia has been put in front of the world stage, thanks to Yanuk.

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Anonymous June 24, 2011, 11:39 a.m.    

If this judge is a puppet the puppet wasn't made yesterday. On the contrary it was living the good life of a puppet judge when Yulia was in power. That's the nature of puppets. When your in power they dance to your tune. When your out of power they dance to an-others song. Ain't this world a sad place for yesterdays puppet masters. I'll have to stop now as I feel so tearful. Ho ho ho give Yulia 10 years for the first offense. And another twenty for treating the rest of the world like jerks.

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Anonymous June 24, 2011, 3:33 p.m.    

Mrs Tymoshenko is now on trial. She will turn out to be her own worst enemy by turning the trial in to the usual political statement and a circus.

For someone who has been known in the past to give lip service to honoring the judicial system, when it's her turn in the docket she is doing everything she can to delay the inevitable. Is she afraid of the evidence State has?

From the looks of it she's going to grandstand her way right in to prison. We'll see what the final result is after all the evidence is in.

After todays opening performance, in USA she would already be serving 30 days for Contempt of Court for starters.

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Anonymous June 24, 2011, 10:24 p.m.    

The US has an independant court system. There is no such thing in Ukraine. This particular court was set up by Yanukonvict himself,I doubt if you will have any respect for a dictator whose only purpose is to destroy you as his opponent!

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Anonymous June 24, 2011, 4:10 p.m.    

Binder Dijker &amp; Otte which is one of the largest audit companies in the world and Covington &amp; Burling one of the largest legal companies in the U.S. state that the audit findings of Yanukovych’s U.S. audit companies are without evidence and “not worth the paper that they are written on”.

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Anonymous June 24, 2011, 10:52 p.m.    

Yanukonvict must be kicking himself for allowing live coverage of Tymoshenko's trial.He forgot that she is smart and will cease any opportunity to get back at him.And she did it the way she knows best. Direct and to the point. There is no denying that Tymoshenko was the one in control of todays events, and she should be.This case in not criminal,it is all political, and Tymoshenko rightfully treats it as such.Unfortunately though, the system controlled by the devil, doesn't allow her to have a fair trial and dictator Yanukonvict have already decided her fate. I can't wait to see him behind those bars begging for forgiveness!

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 8:31 a.m.    

Today we watched a lot of this live. Interesting discourses. In my opinion, Mrs Tymoshenko knows they have the evidence to prove her guilty, and is using ever trick in the book to delay the inevitable. Mores the pity for that.

I well remember the 'gas crisis' back in '09, and the reasons therefore. The Russians were a bit peeved at the 35% loss of gas in transit. Mrs Tymoshenko said the 35% was used as 'technical gas', in other words 35% of the gas in transit was used to power the pumps etc of the transit system. Apparently the Russians did not buy that argument, and turned off the valves, hence EU getting nervous.

In another development, her lawyer today said she had no recourse but to sign the Russian gas contracts for whatever the Russians were asking in price. The excuse her lawyer gave was the gas was cut off and the ordinary Ukrainian citizens were freezing in the mid winter with no gas. OK, then why, 3 days ago, did Mrs Tymoshenko's party demand a presidential veto on the law allowing Ukrainian produced gas to be sold on the open market, using the reasoning that since Ukraine produced more than enough gas to supply all domestic and most industry, why sell it abroad when it could be provided to the citizens of Ukraine at prices well below the international market. (this I agree with)

If this is so, and by the by it is true, then why was she compelled to sign a disadvantageous contract when in fact there was more than enough gas for the citizens?

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 3:51 p.m.    

So far the prosecution hasn't presented any arguments against her other than misguided accussations.Most of their documents are falsified, so they don't actually have a criminal case to argue.If Tymoshenko is guilty of signing a gas agreement, then

Yanukonvict is guilty of signing the Kharkiv agreemet, a more serious situation that clearly violates the constitution. There are a multititude of agreements signed by the current administration that can be manupilated and used against them.So taking this path to prosecute Tymoshenko can only be translated as political persecution.And as she rightfully says, it is to prevent her from taking part in any future political activities.Makes sense when you consider that she is considered by the current mafia regime as their biggest threat.

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 7:01 p.m.    

If you can't argue the facts (evidence), then argue the law. If you can't argue the law, then argue the investigative procedures. That's what happened today.

We watched today the entire process from beginning to the break at 16:00 or so for the judge to rule on her numerous petitions.

Mrs Tymoshenko made several serious mistakes today in her often long discourses, and was often admonished by the judge, quite politely I might add, to stick to the subject. By mistakes, I'm talking evidence wise.

There was also a very clear threat to the judge and Protocol reps as to what would happen to them 'when' she was in power again, to wit, reading chapter and verse the penalties for malfeasance in office for a judge, 7 to 10 years, and Protoracura, the same.

Mrs Tymoshenko also filed several petitions to drop her travel restrictions, including 2 that would have fallen on court procedure days.

In my opinion, she still doesn't take this trial seriously, at least not until the very end before the break for the judge to ruminate his decisions, when after Protoracura finally spoke for 10 minutes and in that 10 minutes destroyed chapter and verse most of her 'attorney's' arguments. It was then that her face changed, and now she realizes I think that she is in serious trouble. And more than once the true Mrs Tymoshenko came out. You lads should have seen her face on two occasions.

So, here's my take on today. She and her mouth piece, her lawyer, who is being directed completely by her in minute detail, are delaying as much as possible the trial start. All the screaming and law suits filed in EU are laying the ground work for her fleeing to EU and demanding political asylum. I think she will be arrested today, if she has not already fled. Court has been on 'break' for almost 3 hours now, so something has happened. As of 15 minutes ago, the Milicia guards and media types were in court room, but Mrs Tymochenko, her lawyer, and his assistant were not, nor was His Honor.

As a comment on the judge, say what you wish. He has bent over backwards to give her the 'rights' she has. In a USA court, she and her lawyer would be serving already 30 to 60 days for contempt of court. As would be her supporters in the peanut gallery, all deputats from her party, supposedly, although many of them I don't recognize. He has kept his composure under a very difficult and trying session. We'll see what this evening brings, if anything.

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 7:41 p.m.    

Open your eyes to reality. Tymoshenko is fighting a loosing battle even before it started. First, the court was set up by Yanukonvict himself since he has absolute power over the judiciary system.There is no justice for any one under such system. Second, he personally removed the residing judge and installed this inexperienced boy for the job.Tymoshenko is right in rejecting this judge since he has had only 2 years experience and still learning. A matter of this importance must be the porogative of an experienced judge.Yaukonvict has denied her that right. Another important issue here is that the prosecution have not been able to present any case against her other than spur of the moment accusations.So far, they have not produced any substantial evidence to prove their case. According to the law, Tymoshenko has every right to have the prosecution investigated for proving false documents.If she is denied this right, then it is proof that they are lying and this whole episode is made up to destroy Tymoshenko as a powerful opponent to the mafia in power.

Your comment on the judge is ludicrous! It is obvious from his actions that he is nervous and unable to deal with the situation.The fact that he didn't speak for the most part doesn't mean he kept his composure, he just didn't know what to say because his decision was already prepared for him by the devil!Besides, the less he talks, the better for the mafia!

The only thing that can help Tymoshenko is pressure from the people and the international community because there is no justice in Ukraine. This is a fact you can't deny!

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 8:40 p.m.    

I stand by what I said. We watched the entire proceeding, and my wife is a UN quality translator, so there is no doubt as to what was said by all concerned.

You have my opinion, and it's just that, an opinion.

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 9:43 p.m.    

I too watched the entire proceeding and I don't need second hand translation to form my opinion.I heard everything loud and clear and I stand by what I said!

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 10:32 p.m.    

It was not a 'second hand translation', but a verbatim simultaneous translation. She is that good.

So what are your thoughts on what will transpire in this trial? Seriously, as I could in many ways care less about what happens to any of them. And please leave out the party lines and propaganda, from the sound of you both of us are too old to really believe any party lines and discourses.

I did notice that as Mrs Tymoshenko got well in to her discourses, the Judge seemed to develop an interesting twitch on his right eyebrow. Of course, the last governor of Florida, Crist, had a snow white mane of hair and dark bushy eyebrows, and when he talked it was very hard to pay attention to what he said as his eyebrows constantly moved up and down to an annoying degree.

No one has heard the actual evidence to be used against Mrs Tymoshenko, but I would hardly think Protocola would go to the expense and trouble of this mess without feeling they have enough to convict her. That being said, in USA it is estimated that 15% of the felons in prison were wrongly convicted, in other words they were innocent of the crime for which they were sent to prison for. Now, most were in all probability guilty of other crimes, perhaps far worse, but the conviction of innocents in any form rubs me the wrong way. If they have the goods on her, so be it. If not, then stop. However, I would be willing to bet that on this one and one other, and another started today, they may have the goods on her.

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Anonymous June 25, 2011, 7:45 p.m.    

The dictator who created this farce must go!!!!!

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