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Ukraine: Tymoshenko's jailing is politically motivated

A former Ukrainian prime minister jailed today for abuse of office must be released, Amnesty International said.

Yuliya Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and barred from holding public office for three years by a Kiev court for signing a multi-million pound energy contract with Russia in January 2009 while she was Prime Minister.

John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director of Amnesty International, said:

“The prosecution against Yuliya Timoshenko is politically-motivated. The charges against her are not internationally recognisable offences, they are attempts to criminalize decisions that she made in the course of her work.

"Poor political decisions of this kind – if that is what they were – should be punished by voters, not through courts. Her conviction on these charges is illegitimate and she should be immediately released.”

Yuliya Tymoshenko, a prominent opposition leader, was Ukraine’s Prime Minister from January to September 2005 and again from December 2007 to March 2010.

She has been on trial since June for abuse of office after signing a contract between the state oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukraine and Russian energy giant Gazprom.

At the time, Gazprom had increased the price of gas by 40 per cent and Ukraine was under pressure to solve the impasse in order to supply national needs.

Tymoshenko struck a deal struck with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the prosecution alleges caused the state a loss of £124.4m.

It also alleges that she did not get the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers for the decision.

John Dalhuisen added:

“The trial against Yuliya Tymoshenko highlights systemic problems within the justice system in Ukraine, and the conduct of this trial casts doubt over the independence of the judiciary.”

There are two other cases pending against Yuliya Tymoshenko.

On 30 December 2010, she was charged with abuse of office over the receipt of £156.6m from the sale of a greenhouse gas quota to a Japanese company.

She is also charged with having delayed signing an order in December 2009 for the customs clearance of 1000 Opel Combo cars. The delay allegedly resulted in a budget loss of £2.9m.

John Dalhuisen added:

"Yuliya Tymoshenko must be released and all charges against her must be dropped,"

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