[JURIST] Ukrainian Judge Rodion Kireyev on Friday ordered the arrest of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive], also imposing a travel ban. Reversing a decision he made last week [JURIST report], Kireyev arrested Tymoshenko [press release] on contempt charges. A blockade of supporters started a brawl [Interfax-Ukraine report] outside the courtroom attempting to force officers to release Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko’s former defense lawyer released a statement [press release] shortly after the arrest, which the former prime minister had prepared a week ago under the possibility of arrest:
I want to make a statement regarding the plan to arrest me. Clearly this is an act of revenge against a political opponent, but that’s not my point. I want to state that I have no intention of committing suicide. They don’t need to repeat the tricks they did with Kirpa and Kravchenko. I will never end my life with suicide. Everything I do is my battle against this criminal regime for Ukraine’ rightful place in the world. Glory to Ukraine.
Prosecutors filed a petition for remand after Tymoshenko questioned [press releases] Prime Minister Mykola Azarov [official website, in Ukrainian]. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian] denied [Interfax-Ukraine report] any complicity in the arrest. The trial will resume on August 8 [press release]. Tymoshenko’s legal team will appeal [press release, in Ukrainian] her arrest.
There have been several minor developments in Tymoshenko’s trial in the past week. Kireyev again refused to recuse himself and Tymoshenko announced that she was allowed to call only two of her proposed witnesses [press releases]. Last month, 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 Yanukovych, 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.