Former Ukraine Prime Minister Goes on Trial

Posted June 24th, 2011 at 7:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The trial of Ukraine's former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, opened Friday with her accusing President Viktor Yanukovych of using the proceeding to keep her out of politics.

Ms. Tymoshenko, now a top Ukrainian opposition leader, is on trial for alleged abuse of power.

The former prime minister denounced the trial as a pre-arranged farce and accused the judge of being a “puppet” of Mr. Yanukovych, who, she said, is trying to bar her from challenging him politically.

Her supporters in the hot, crowded courtroom in the capital, Kyiv, shouted “shame, shame.”

The United States said it had concerns about “the appearance of politically-motivated prosecutions” of opposition figures in Ukraine. In a statement Friday, a State Department spokeswoman urged Ukraine to refrain from actions that create such an appearance, and said it would closely monitor the proceedings against Ms. Tymoshenko and other opposition figures.

Ms. Tymoshenko has been charged with abuse of office for signing a deal with Moscow to buy Russian natural gas at prices investigators said were too high.

If convicted, she would be barred from running in upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

Mr. Yanukovych narrowly defeated Ms. Tymoshenko in presidential elections last year.