Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On Friday, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was arrested on “abuse of office” charges for allegedly forcing Naftogaz, the state energy company, to sign a gas contract with Russia.Today, her lawyer’s appeal for her release was denied as a judge ruled her in contempt of court for refusing to rise as she addressed the court.
Warranted or not, the contempt charge may not be so far off. Tymoshenko called the judge a “puppet” for her nemesis, current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
She’s not alone in that thought. The Russian government has called for her release, threatening that Tymoshenko’s arrest will have a negative effect on Ukraine’s relationships with countries all over the world. Human rights groups in the U.S. and in the Ukraine have also condemned her detainment.
“This latest development [Tymoshenko’s detention] has moved this situation from the absurd to the outrageous and reinforces the perception that the current administration is selectively prosecuting Tymoshenko as a means to silence her,” David Kramer, the president of Washington-based non-governmental organisation, Freedom House said in a statement.
And the people are getting involved. Hundreds of Ukrainians, supporters of both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko, have taken to the streets in protest. 1,000 police officers have been brought in from all over the country to calm the crowds outside Pechersky District Court where Tymoshenko’s trial is being held, reports the Kyiv Post.
The feud between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych goes back to the country’s Orange Revolution in 2004. Tymoshenko was the leader of the protest movement that ousted Yanukovych from power after his dubious election victory that year. Tymoshenko then became Prime Minister, and was seen as a very Western-friendly leader, but her political party fell apart and reforms came to slowly. Yanukovych won back power in 2010.
Tymoshenko remains the country’s lead opposition figure. She’s also been called the World’s most beautiful politician.
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