Ukraine's 'Iron Lady' Goes On Trial

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's "Iron Lady" Yulia Tymoshenko on Friday goes on trial for alleged abuse of power in a case she has dismissed as a political vendetta orchestrated by her opponent President Viktor Yanykovych, AFP reported.

Yulia Tymoshenko

One of the leaders of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004 and Ukraine's former prime minister, Tymoshenko narrowly lost out to her old rival Yanukovych in presidential elections last year, becoming his fiercest critic.

She is now the target of several investigations including for abuse of power that allegedly caused severe financial losses for Ukraine after the country's row with Moscow over Russian gas deliveries in early 2009.

"This kangaroo trial will take place on personal orders of Viktor Yanukovych," Tymoshenko said this week.

"Everything that happens around me is an attempt by Viktor Yanukovych to eliminate me as his competitor," she said, describing her case as bearing "the hallmarks of political repressions."

Tymoshenko is accused of causing a loss to the former Soviet republic's budget of 1.5 billion hryvnia ($190 million) when she signed a new energy contract with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a brief interruption of gas deliveries in early 2009.

The charges carry a sentence of between 7 and 10 years, jeopardising Tymoshenko's ability to take part in parliamentary polls next year and the next presidential elections in 2015.

Analysts have previously said that it was not in the Yanukovych administration's interests to jail the 50-year-old charismatic prime minister as a new jail term would reinforce her image as a martyr.

But her lawyer said he had a sense of foreboding about the upcoming trial set to begin 0600 GMT in central Kiev.

Source: FOCUS News