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Tymoshenko trial to resume in Ukraine

27 september 2011, 17:51
Yulia Tymoshenko at the court. ©RIA Novosti
Yulia Tymoshenko at the court. ©RIA Novosti
Ukraine on Tuesday was to resume the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko after a two-week suspension that saw Kiev come under renewed EU pressure to release the opposition leader and former premier, AFP reports.

Tymoshenko's abuse of power trial has set the current leadership at odds with the European Union in the heat of crunch negotiations on Ukraine taking the first step towards European Union membership.

The one-time Orange Revolution leader argues that the charges against her are a political vendetta launched against by her great rival and current head of state Viktor Yanukovych -- a charge the president denies.

But a visiting EU official warned earlier this month that if Tymoshenko was convicted and jailed it could deal a major blow to Kiev's EU integration plans.

"If this issue is not being solved and if she indeed is put in prison... it would be problematic," European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said during a visit to the Black Sea city of Yalta.

"It would seem to many totally incompatible with the very values that are the basis for the agreement," Fule said.

His comments prompted Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov to remark that he viewed links between his country's European aspirations and the trial as "immoral".

Tymoshenko's second stint as prime minister ended in March 2010 when she lost a closely-fought presidential election to Yanukovych -- a leader who was believed to favour closer relations with Moscow.

The new government then launched a series of probes into Tymoshenko's assistants and charged the former prime minister with on three counts, including the abuse of office charge, whose hearing began on June 24.

She was later arrested on August 5 for contempt of court and has since been held in a Kiev holding cell.

Yanukovych meanwhile has been busy negotiating closer EU ties after rebuffing Russia's efforts to pull Ukraine into a Moscow-led economic union and win ownership rights of its neighbour's gas transmission network.

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