Ukraine ex-president testifies against former ally Tymoshenko

[JURIST] Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] testified against his former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday in her ongoing trial for charges of corruption. The prosecution alleges [JURIST report] that Tymoshenko orchestrated a deal where Ukraine's national gas company would pay Russia excessively high prices for gas. Although Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were allies in Ukraine's Orange Revolution, Yushchenko testified that these charges are true, and that Tymoshenko made a number of unnecessary political moves against his wishes to negotiate higher prices for Russia. Yushchenko also called on the prosecution [RIA Novosti] to question Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] and the CEO of Russian energy company Gazprom [corporate website]. Tymoshenko refused to cross-examine [press release] Yushchenko so the Orange Revolution would not be tarnished. However, afterward, her counsel stated that Yushchenko had lied under oath [press release], specifically alleging that his testimony directly contradicted another prosecution witness' testimony.

Last week, the Kiev Appeals Court refused Tymoshenko's appeal of her detention for contempt charges [JURIST reports]. Earlier this month, Ukrainian Judge Rodion Kireyev rejected a request [JURIST report] from Tymoshenko to release her from prison. Kireyev again refused to recuse himself the week before, and Tymoshenko announced that she was allowed to call only two of her proposed witnesses [press releases]. In July, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) [official website, in Ukrainian] announced that they are launching a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), an energy company at one time headed by Tymoshenko. In June, Tymoshenko filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights alleging violations of the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF]. The complaint argued that the charges against Tymoshenko are politically engineered by current President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian]. ECHR President Jean Paul Costa refused to comment on the complaint [Korrespondent report, in Russian], but said the matter was before the court. The current combined case against her is not the first time she has been prosecuted. Last May, prosecutors reopened a separate criminal investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that Tymoshenko attempted to bribe Supreme Court judges. Tymoshenko's government was dissolved in March 2010 after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Yanukovych. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election.

 

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