Andrew Osborn








Yulia Tymoshenko arrested, 5th August 2011 10:04

By Andrew Osborn, Moscow

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s top opposition leader and its former prime minister, was arrested during her own trial on Friday after the judge decreed she was guilty of systematically disrupting proceedings.

In a surprise move that enraged her supporters and is likely to attract international criticism, the 50-year-old politician was led out of court by police in handcuffs and driven off in an unknown direction. Brawling between her supporters and policemen broke out in court soon afterwards.

The darling of Ukraine’s 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution, Mrs Tymoshenko is on trial in a case that many Western observers charge is politically motivated.

Ukrainian prosecutors have accused her of exceeding her authority as prime minister in 2009 by brokering a gas deal with Russia that lost £118 million.

If found guilty, she faces up to a decade in jail and would be disqualified from taking part in parliamentary elections next year and a presidential poll in 2015.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph last month, she accused the country’s Kremlin-friendly government of turning the country into a vast concentration camp at the heart of Europe, alleging it was resorting to trumped up criminal cases in order to kill off dissent.

“Today’s Ukraine is comparable with the USSR in 1937 when innocent people were convicted, jailed, and sometimes sent to their death,” she said. Her trial resumes on Monday.