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

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.”

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

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7 thoughts on “Tymoshenko sentenced to 7 years in prison, protest tonight in Toronto

  1. United States urges the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other political leaders and former government officials: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/11/statement-press-secretary-ukraine

    Senators John McCaine and Joe Lieberman about Tymoshenko:

    President Yanukovych was booed at the Olympic stadium in Kyiv:

  2. Glad they will be protesting..that is a disgrace what happened today…we need Ukr. to move forward, not backward!

  3. Just like the old days – put your enemies in jail and they can’t hurt you. A complete disgrace. I hope the European and North American goverments come through on their threats of sanctions.

  4. As a Dnepropetrovsk native, I can’t help myself but gloat about her sentence. No wonder she got the lowest % of presidential votes in her own home region, that’s because we still remember Ms. Timoshenko with Lazarenko stealing millions from the Ukrainian people, thus have no sympathy for her. Of course, it’s very convenient to be a dissident these days. She was charged with similar crimes in both 2001 and 2004, and I don’t remember such outrage at the time. It would rather be diplomatically stupid for Europe and N. American to impose anything, because the gas deal with Russia is on the table right now and 18 European nations should remember well the major drops in 2009. Moreover, if Europe backs out on trade deal with Ukraine it would be an incentive for Ukraine to join Putin’s new supranational Common Wealth union, and no one wants that.

  5. As a rule I’m for female empowerment, but all I’ll say is beware of Russia + Putin!

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