[JURIST] The trial of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] resumed on Tuesday after a two-week recess [JURIST report] with prosecutors asking the court to sentence Tymoshenko to seven years in prison and bar her from holding public office. Tymoshenko is on trial on charges of abuse of power and corruption, with the prosecution arguing that she orchestrated a deal where Ukraine’s national gas company would pay Russia excessively high prices for gas. Tymoshenko’s team repeated that the charges and potential sentence are unjustifiable [press release]. Recently, the European Union (EU) [official website] has threatened to cancel free trade and association agreements [Reuters report] with the Ukraine if the trial of Tymoshenko is not conducted reasonably, including blocking the Ukraine from joining the EU. In response, Tymoshenko asked the EU to continue contracting with the Ukraine [press release] despite her trial: “I asked that they not make the decision to sign an association agreement dependent on what is happening now with my personal fate because the signing of an association agreement is a historical event, a historical step that must be taken, not to mark Yanukovych, but to once and for all cut off our path to the past.”
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, Judge Rodoin 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 current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian], Tymoshenko’s political rival. 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.