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Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko trial delayed

The Pechersk District Court announced on Monday that the trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website, in Ukrainian; JURIST news archive] on charges of abuse of office would be adjourned for two weeks [press release, in Ukrainian]. Judge Rodion Kireyev said he would delay further proceedings "in order to ensure the defendant's right to defense, the court is giving additional time to prepare for debates." The decision to postpone comes after criticism from the US and EU regarding Tymoshenko's prosecution on charges stemming from an allegation by the administration of President Viktor Yanukovych [official website; JURIST news archive] that the former prime minister signed an economically unfavorable natural gas deal with Russia while she was in office. A spokesman for EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton [official profile] confirmed that Ashton and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official profile] wrote a letter to Yanukovych [Reuters report] on Friday regarding the case, but declined to elaborate on the contents of the communication. The trial is set to resume on September 27.

Last month, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] testified against [JURIST report] Tymoshenko, his former prime minister. That same month, the Kiev Appeals Court refused Tymoshenko's appeal of her detention for contempt charges [JURIST reports]. Also in August, Kireyev rejected a request [JURIST report] from Tymoshenko to release her from prison. 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 Yanukovych. 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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