A day after Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko spoke of freedom and democracy in Kiev on Constitution Day, June 28, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko went to trial, accusing the judge of being a puppet of the presidential office.
Tymoshenko, who served as prime minister of Ukraine twice, is accused of abusing her power, agreeing to a high gas price, in a 2009 gas import deal with Russia which ended a three week gas shut-off to the Ukraine and Europe at that time.
Tymoshenko, known as the “gas princess” after her involvement with gas deals in 1990, denies any wrongdoing. According to Reuters, prosecutors say the 2009 deal caused the Ukrainian state to lose more than $190 million. Tymoshenko counters that the gas price negotiated was among the lowest in Europe.
After hearing a request for a three-week postponement to review the evidence, the presiding judge Rodion Kirieyev ordered the case to begin on Monday, July 4.
Tymoshenko’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko pointed out that this ruling is a direct violation of the law.
Tymoshenko said she could face a jail term of 7-10 years, though others felt she would more likely get a suspended sentence if convicted, but her political career would be jeopardized if she was to run again in the 2015 presidential elections.
A complaint to the European Convention of Human Rights was filed last week. The US and EU condemn the trial, according to RFE/RL.