BRAMA, October 11, 2011, 9:00 AM ET|
Politically Motivated Tymoshenko Conviction Threatens Ukraine’s European Path
Ukraine’s Democracy Dealt Killer Blow by Conviction of Opposition Leader
Kyiv, Ukraine, 11 October, 2011 Today, the judge in the show trial of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko delivered a guilty verdict and sentenced the former premier to 7 years in prison. In addition, she is banned from holding public office for three years and has to repay Naftohaz Ukrainy, the state-run gas company, UAH1.5 billion ($190 million). Batkivshchyna, Ms Tymoshenko’s party, said that the shameful verdict is a blow to democracy, makes a complete mockery of the Ukrainian justice system and threatens Ukraine’s European future.
Expecting the decision, Ms Tymoshenko said she would fight for Ukraine’s democracy “until her last breath.”
“Unless quashed, this verdict slams the door shut on Ukraine’s hopes for closer integration with Europe. From the outset the trial has been a farce and the verdict written in advance,” said Hryhoriy Nemyria, Yulia Tymoshenko’s foreign policy adviser. “Today is a shameful day for our justice system. Only a dictatorship, where the rule of law does not apply, will convict a former premier for making a political decision. The verdict is truly outrageous and has severe implications for businesses, those wanting to invest and even for soccer fans attending next year’s UEFA EURO 2012 tournament. If they can lock up the leader of the opposition for no good reason, just think what they can do to you?”
The proceedings against the former premier have been condemned universally by the international community.
Last month, EU officials told President Yanukovych that Ms Tymoshenko and other detained opposition leaders should be freed and allowed to participate fully in political life, otherwise Ukraine risked jeopardising closer integration and the ratification of an EU Association Agreement with a wide-ranging free trade accord.
“Yanukovych’s goal is to prevent Ukraine’s most popular opposition politician from running in the 2012 parliamentary and 2015 presidential elections by giving her a criminal conviction and imprisoning her,” said Mr Nemyria. “Mr Yanukovych looks hell-bent on making Ukraine an international pariah.”
Today, the judge relaxed the ban on live TV broadcasts for the reading of the verdicts and sentence. However, many foreign journalists were denied access to the court as well as all opposition lawmakers (MPs) and foreign ambassadors.
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