Ukraine’s Tymoshenko to Boycott Appeals Hearing

Posted December 22nd, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her lawyers said Thursday they will boycott her appeals hearing on her conviction of abuse of power.

The former Ukrainian leader released a statement Thursday saying she decided not to take part in what she called “this shameful process.” Instead, she and her attorneys plan to press her case in the European Court of Human Rights — which has promised to give it priority due to, in its words, the “serious and sensitive nature of the allegations raised.”

Ms. Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in October for abusing her authority in a 2009 gas deal with Russia that her opponents says was too beneficial for Moscow. She also faces numerous other charges.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said he does not oppose the release of Ms. Tymoshenko.

The trial has affected Ukraine's ties with the European Union, which Kyiv seeks to join. The EU on Monday said it will not sign a landmark political and trade cooperation agreement with Ukraine until it resolves Ms. Tymoshenko's case.

Ms. Tymoshenko has described her trial as “a political lynching” aimed at allowing President Yanukovych to rid himself of a political rival. She had been expected to be the main opposition candidate in an election next year, but is not eligible to run if her conviction is upheld.

Mr. Yanukovych has denied her accusation.

The United States, the European Union and human rights groups have condemned the charges against Ms. Tymoshenko as politically motivated.