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Tymoshenko sentenced to 7 years in prison, protest tonight in Toronto

October 11th, 2011 7 comments

A court in Kiev sentenced the country’s most prominent opposition politician, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, to seven years in prison. European leaders have condemned the case as politically motivated, and hinted that they are unlikely to ratify a free trade and association agreement with Ukraine, a project four years in the making.

“This is an authoritarian regime,” she said. “Against the background of European rhetoric, Yanukovich is taking Ukraine farther from Europe by launching such political trials.” As bailiffs led her from the courtroom, Ms. Tymoshenko turned in the doorway to wave goodbye, a small figure in a white coat and helmet of blond braids.

But international legal experts saythat she seems to have been performing a routine administrative function for which she might conceivably be disciplined, if the government was displeased with her performance, but not charged with a crime.

With Ms. Tymoshenko’s trial at an end, European governments will have to decide whether to make good on their warnings that imprisoning her will freeze efforts to integrate with Ukraine politically and economically. On one hand, Mr. Yanukovich has defied intense diplomatic pressure from Western partners, crossing what one analyst called “the reddest of red lines.”

On the other hand, Ukraine has been under pressure from Russia to join its own economic bloc, along with Kazakhstan and Belarus. Even compared to the other former Soviet nations, Ukraine — with a population of 46 million, about the size of France — seems to waver between Europe and Russia, so that isolating it from the West could have profound consequences.

Mr. Yanukovich has made integrating with Europe a central goal, and he is likely to head off catastrophic damage by softening Ms. Tymoshenko’s conviction swiftly. One route to this would be decriminalizing the article under which she was convicted. In that event, her name will be cleared and she will be able to run in parliamentary elections in 2012, said Serhiy Vlasenko, one of her lawyers. This could occur as soon as next week, so that Mr. Yanukovich would be welcome at European Union talks in Brussels scheduled for October 20.

He suggested as much on Tuesday, when he told journalists, “This is not a final decision.”

Read the rest of the article

Tonight there is a demonstration in front of the Ukrainian Consulate in Toronto at 6:30PM: 2275 Lakeshore Blvd West.


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Tymoshenko’s fate decided next week

October 6th, 2011 No comments

Reuters sums up this case very well in only a few short paragraphs:

Ukraine’s state prosecutor on Tuesday asked for a seven-year jail sentence to be passed on former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a trial which the West has warned can rebound on the country’s hopes of joining the European mainstream.

Tymoshenko, 50, Ukraine’s most prominent opposition politician, is charged with abuse of office linked with a gas deal with Russia in January 2009 which the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovich says saddled the country with an exorbitant price for gas. She denies this.

The United States and the European Union say the trial is politically motivated and they have urged Yanukovich to find a way of ending the case against her.

And the Yanukovich administration claims it’s not politically motivated:

Ukrainian prosecutors said Wednesday they were seeking a seven-year jail term for Tymoshenko, a $195 million fine and a ban on her holding a position in the public sector for three years after her release.

That would only put Tymoshenko out of the running for the next three Presidential races until about 2022.

Meanwhile in Canada, the Conservative government had some harsh words:

Ottawa "has expressed to the Ukrainian government our serious concern about the apparent bias in the ongoing judicial proceedings against former prime minister Tymoshenko," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday.

"Political persecution is completely unacceptable," he said. "The appearance of political bias in judicial proceedings undermines the rule of law."

Even Liberal leader Bob Rae expressed concern:

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Bob Rae has invited ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister and Batkivschyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently held in custody, to attend the 41st session of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, according to Tymoshenko’s personal Web site:

"As the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, I have the honor to invite Mrs. Yulia Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian prime minister and leader of the democratic opposition, to Ottawa for meetings with Canadian parliamentarians and for the 41st session of the parliament", the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada said in the letter of invitation.

Rae expressed concern over the recent events in Ukraine, particularly, what he called the politically motivated arrests of many opposition activists, including Mrs. Tymoshenko.

 
Has the thuggery of Yanukovych and his Donetsk gang caught the attention of Hollywood? On The Simpsons’ season premiere two weeks ago, Homer’s new work colleague is a former spy who tangles with a portly Ukrainian mafia boss named ‘Viktor':
We have no idea at what they are hinting at Winking smile
 
You can watch the entire episode here. Who knew Springfield had a ‘Little Ukraine’ district?
 
This one was my personal favourite, a store called ‘Cossacks Fifth Avenue’ – a parody of the high-end retail store ‘Sacks Fifth Avenue’:
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/opinion/05iht-edriley05.html
http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/114174/
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