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Ukraine judge refuses to release ex-PM Tymoshenko

Ukrainian Judge Rodion Kireyev on Monday rejected a request from former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] to release her from prison during her trial on charges of abuse of power. The announcement was made as thousands of supporters called for her release [Reuters report] outside the court in Kiev. Kireyev ordered Tymoshenko's arrest [JURIST report] last week on contempt charges. The US government on Saturday expressed its discontent [press release] with Tymoshenko's arrest, questioned the application of the rule of law in Ukraine and said the arrest appears to have been politically motivated.

Kireyev again refused to recuse himself last week, 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. 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 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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