A Ukrainian court’s conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko on charges of abusing her powers when she signed natural gas contracts with Russia in 2009, when she was the prime minister, is not necessarily proof that she actually committed a crime.
Nobody, except perhaps President Viktor Yanukovych and his inner circle, really believes in the independence of the Ukrainian judiciary. In fact, this case can be viewed as a new chapter in Ukrainian politics — criminal prosecution for political motives.
Yanukovych had two such motives. First was to get rid of an opposition leader whose presence in the political arena has been a source of acute discomfort for him since the days of the Orange Revolution. Tymoshenko played a leading role in that popular uprising, which blocked Yanukovych’s first attempt in 2004 to secure the presidency. In his second bid in 2010, he narrowly defeated Tymoshenko.