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You're reading: Firtash-led ‘party of war’ in charge?

Why was she jailed in the first place? And why has an old issue, linked to a time when virtually all the Ukrainian oligarchs had their hands in the public trough, suddenly resurfaced?

On Wednesday, Tymoshenko received a seven-year prison sentence for her part in a gas deal negotiated with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2009 that was "disadvantageous for Ukraine." Throughout the trial she had expressed her contempt for the judge and prosecutor and argued that the procedure was politically motivated. Virtually all the Western governments concurred while Russia was furious that the 2009 agreement had been so publicly reopened.

Yanukovych, supposedly, wished to rid himself of his main political opponent before the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2012. However, the trial and verdict endangered Ukraine’s chances of signing an Association Agreement with the European Union, which has been under negotiation for some time. Some critics, such as David Kramer of Freedom House, maintain that the discussions should be postponed until Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders have been released and pardoned.

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