Defence lawyers for jailed Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Thursday, Aug.16, said there were no grounds for a criminal case against her as they launched a fresh appeal against her conviction last year for abuse of office.
The opposition leader’s jailing for seven years last October
soured the former Soviet republic’s relations with the European
Union, which sees her as a victim of selective justice by
President Viktor Yanukovich, her political foe.
But, with a parliamentary election set for Oct. 28, the
Yanukovich leadership has shown no signs of releasing her and
are instead piling up other charges against her.
In a separate trial, which has been adjourned several times
because of back trouble which has confined her to hospital, she
is accused of embezzlement and tax evasion going back to alleged
offences when she was a businesswoman in the 1990s.
The conviction for abuse-of-office which she is appealing
in the Kyiv court relates to a 2009 gas deal with Russia which
she brokered as prime minister.
Yanukovich’s government says the deal saddled Ukraine with
an exorbitant price for gas imports and has become a mill-stone
for the economy.
With Tymoshenko absent in a state-run hospital in the city
of Kharkiv, the appeal hearing in Kyiv has also been adjourned
several times. But it went ahead on Thursday after her lawyers
said Tymoshenko wanted proceedings to continue in her absence.
Laying out the basis for the appeal, her lawyer, Olexander
Plakhotniuk, told the court: “I consider that the sentence of
the court (last October) is unlawful. The court incorrectly
applied criminal law and this is the basis for overturning the
“I appeal to the court to overturn the judgment and halt the
case against Yulia Tymoshenko on the grounds of a lack of
criminal action,” he said.
Some parliamentary supporters of Tymoshenko enlivened the
start of proceedings by trying to nail up on the courtroom’s
wall a reproduction of a Renaissance painting depicting a
corrupt judge being flayed alive, Interfax news agency said.
Judge Stanlislav Myshchenko warned them that they would be
expelled if there were further attempts to disturb court
proceedings. “You’re not in parliament now. If I have to speak
to you again, it will be to send you out of the courtroom,” he
Tymoshenko has denied betraying the national interest and
says she is the victim of a vendetta by Yanukovich who beat her
for the presidency in a run-off in February 2010.
Tymoshenko was a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution
protests which derailed Yanukovich’s first bid for the
presidency, but failed to produce a strong unified government.
Since Yanukovich defeated her in the presidential election,
some of her opposition allies have also faced corruption-related
In the political fall-out from her prosecution, the European
Union shelved key agreements on political association and free
trade with Ukraine, while the United States has also criticised
the court action against her as politically-motivated.
Separately, the Tymoshenko camp has also turned to the
Strasbourg-based European Court for Human Rights.