Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

To smack or not to smack?

Read more

DEBATE

Soft on Smacking? France slammed for not banning corporal punishment (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

French Muslims refuse to be scapegoats for extremists

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Obama needs to provide real answers to Netanyahu's arguments'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Hollande: 'We have to tear voters away from the National Front'

Read more

FACE-OFF

French local elections: Far-right National Front in pole position

Read more

ENCORE!

Film Show: 'Citizen Four', 'The Circle' and 'Wolf Totem'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Tangerine Dream: Afropolitan star Yemi Alade chats to FRANCE 24

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Islamic State group's child soldiers

Read more

Europe

Former PM in court for pre-trial hearing over abuse of power

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-06-24

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (pictured) appeared in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing over abuse of power charges in connection with a gas supply agreement with Russia in January 2009.

REUTERS - Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing over charges of abuse on power on Friday as thousands of people massed in support of her in the capital’s city centre.

Tymoshenko, 50, a fierce critic of President Viktor Yanukovich, put on a typically defiant performance. She denounced the hearing as an arranged “farce” and told the judge to his face that he was a presidential “puppet”.

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

Outside the court earlier 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.”

The hearing was to decide whether to send Tymoshenko for trial on a charge of abuse of power in connection with a gas supply agreement with Russia in January 2009 when she was prime minister.

That 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 in a fight for the presidency in February 2010, she has failed to unify the opposition around her.

Combative style

But, with her trademark peasant-style hairbraid and a combative manner, she still remains popular across Ukraine and on Friday she brought thousands out onto Kiev’s central thoroughfare.

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

Tetyana Borik, 47, a supporter who had come 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 repeatedly 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.

 

Date created : 2011-06-24

  • UKRAINE

    Parliament votes out PM Tymoshenko's government

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Tymoshenko's ruling coalition collapses

    Read more

COMMENT(S)