Ukraine Adjourns Trial Of Ex-PM Tymoshenko

KIEV, Ukraine -- A Ukrainian judge on Wednesday adjourned until July 4 the trial of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is accused of abuse of power, after she asked for more time to read the evidence.

Yulia Tymoshenko speaks to her supporters as she leaves a district court in Kiev.

"The court has decreed to postpone the proceedings until July 4," judge Rodion Kireyev said, before closing the latest hearing in the high-profile trial after less than an hour.

Tymoshenko had asked the judge for an adjournment, saying she needed three weeks to read through the charges and findings of the investigation against her.

One of the leaders of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004, Tymoshenko narrowly lost to her old rival President Viktor Yanukovych in presidential elections last year, becoming his fiercest critic.

She is accused of abusing her powers by negotiating a 2009 deal with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to buy gas at a price seen as unfavourable to Kiev.

The charges carry a sentence of between seven and 10 years, jeopardising Tymoshenko's ability to take part in parliamentary polls next year and the next presidential elections in 2015.

The opposition leader, wearing her trademark plaited hairstyle, went on trial in Kiev late last week as several thousand supporters rallied outside the courtroom.

Supporters of the charismatic ex-prime minister have condemned the probes against her as "summary justice" orchestrated by her arch-enemy Yanukovych.

The prosecution says she exceeded her powers by personally giving the go-ahead to a deal on the price of Russian gas imports without gaining permission from the government.

Prosecutors say the deal, signed after a brief gas shutoff by Russia, caused the Ukrainian state to lose more than 1.5 billion hryvnas (around $190 million).

Tymoshenko has countered that she was not required to obtain permission to sign the deal and that the gas price that she negotiated with Moscow was among the lowest in Europe.

Source: AFP