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Ukraine judge refuses to arrest ex-PM Tymoshenko

Ukrainian Judge Rodion Kireyev on Wednesday rejected a motion to arrest [press release] former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] for disruptive courtroom behavior. Kireyev made his decision based on his ability to control his courtroom, although he stated that Tymoshenko had disrespected him by not standing when addressing the court and that her supporters were causing distracting disturbances by protesting her trial. Tymoshenko said that Kireyev did not arrest her out of fear [tweet]. Tymoshenko's ongoing trial includes charges of abuse of office in connection with signing gas import contracts with Russia, misappropriating state funds and abuse of authority [JURIST reports] by purchasing "1000 Opel Combo" medical vans at a 20 percent mark-up during her time as prime minister from 2007-2010. Last week, the court dismissed [JURIST report] Serhiy Vlasenko, Tymoshenko's lawyer. In protest, Tymoshenko appeared without lawyers [Interfax-Ukraine report] Wednesday and filed a motion to remove Kireyev and requested a three-day recess [press release] to find new lawyers. Kirieyev refused to recuse himself in June.

Earlier this month, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) [official website, in Ukrainian] announced that they are launching a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into UESU. Last month, Tymoshenko filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], alleging violations of the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF]. The complaint argued that the charges against Tymoshenko are politically engineered by current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian], Tymoshenko's political rival. 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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