Ukraine ex-PM goes on trial

Ukraine ex-PM goes on trial

The former premier, known as the “Iron Lady”, is accused of abuse of power in connection with a contract she signed with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a brief interruption of gas deliveries from Russia in early 2009.

“Yanukovych is a coward. He is afraid of political competition and opposition,” Tymoshenko, wearing a cream-coloured suit and sporting her trademark golden braid wrapped around her head, told reporters.

She has earlier described the process as a “kangaroo court” and vendetta orchestrated by the authorities.

“Whatever verdict is handed down, it will be a verdict against Yanukovych and not me,” said Tymoshenko as several thousand of her supporters rallied in the streets near the courthouse in central Kiev.

Tymoshenko’s family — her businessman husband Olexander, daughter Yevgenia and son-in-law British hard rock musician Sean Carr — turned up near the court in a show of support. The stuffy courtroom was bursting at the seams from the volume of journalists and supporters and scenes of chaos occasionally interrupted the hearing.

Some shouted “Shame, shame on the entire Ukraine” demanding a bigger room.
When the judge — sweat dripping on his papers — refused to Tymoshenko’s demand to recuse himself, her supporters yelled through a loudspeaker “shame on the judge.”
Scores of police, some wearing anti-riot protective gear, ringed the courthouse.

One of the leaders of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004, Tymoshenko narrowly lost to her old rival Yanukovych in presidential elections last year, becoming his fiercest critic.

She is now the target of several investigations.

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