Tymoshenko: Ukraine's 'trial of the century'

11th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The trial of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has jeopardized Ukraine's long-term ambitions to join the EU amid accusations President Viktor Yanukovych is seeking to eliminate his main political opponent.

Here is a chronology of the trial of the former Orange Revolution leader, the most important legal process in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union:

-- June 7, 2009: Pre-election talks between prime minister Tymoshenko and opposition Regions Party leader Yanukovych on a coalition agreement collapse. Tymoshenko immediately announces she will run for the presidency and predicts she will win.

-- February 7, 2010: Yanukovych narrowly defeats Tymoshenko in presidential elections. Her coalition subsequently collapses after defections by MPs, and she is ousted as prime minister.

-- April 28, 2010: New Prime Minister Mykola Azarov makes the first call for Tymoshenko and her former ministers to be held responsible, saying her government caused 100 billion hyrvnia ($12.5 billion) of losses to the budget.

-- May 12, 2010: Ukrainian prosecutors reopen an old investigation into alleged bribes by Tymoshenko to judges, in a corruption case that had been abandoned in 2005.

-- Oct 14, 2010: An audit carried out by three US accountancy firms, commissioned by the new authorities, alleges the Tymoshenko government committed mass fraud and misspent hundreds of millions of dollars. Her allies denounce what they say is an attempt to intimidate the former prime minister.

-- December 15, 2010: Tymoshenko is placed under investigation on suspicion of misspending money Ukraine received from selling greenhouse emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. She is ordered not to leave Kiev and later charged with abuse of power in the case.

-- December 26, 2010: Her former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko is arrested while taking his dog out for a walk in Kiev in a separate corruption case. He remains in detention to this day.

-- January 27, 2011: Prosecutors open another probe against Tymoshenko, accusing her of exceeding her authority in a purchase of 1,000 new hospital vans that cost the state $8.3 million.

-- March 17, 2011: The Ukrainian parliament, where the Regions Party now holds a clear majority, sets up an investigative commission to examine a deal Tymoshenko signed with Russia in January 2009 on gas imports for the next 10 years.

The commission, led by Regions Party MP Inna Bogoslovska, subsequently alleges severe violations by Tymoshenko in signing the deal.

-- April 11, 2011: Ukrainian prosecutors open a criminal investigation against Tymoshenko for sustaining a $190 million loss to the budget over the 2009 gas deal which they say was overly advantageous for Moscow.

-- June 24, 2011: Tymoshenko goes on trial in Kiev on charges of abuse of power in connection with the same gas deals. She denounces Yanukovych as a coward who fears political competition.

-- August 5, 2011: Judge Rodion Kireyev orders that Tymoshenko be placed under arrest for contempt of court after she incessantly mocked him on Twitter messages sent from her iPad during hearings.

-- Sept 27, 2011: Prosecutors demand a seven year sentence for Tymoshenko, who remains in detention, as the EU ambassador accuses Kiev of turning a deaf ear to its calls to free her.

-- Oct 11, 2011: Judge Kireyev starts reading out his verdict, saying that Tymoshenko criminally abused her powers by signing the gas deals.

© 2011 AFP

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