Andrew Osborn








Yulia Tymoshenko likens country's judiciary to mafia, 8th August 2011 17:31

By , Moscow

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, likened the country's judiciary to the mafia on Monday as international concern over her recent detention mounted.

In a show of defiance following her arrest during her own trial last Friday, the 50-year-old opposition leader sniped at the presiding judge as her lawyer tried and failed to get her released on bail.

"I will not stand in front of you, because it would be kneeling in front of the mafia," Mrs Tymoshenko told Rodion Kireyev, the judge. "You are not breaking me but Ukraine's young democracy." On trial for allegedly abusing her authority in 2009 when as prime minister she signed a gas price deal with neighbouring Russia, Mrs Tymoshenko was arrested last Friday after the judge accused her of disrupting her own trial.

A key figure in Ukraine's 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution, Mrs Tymoshenko has insisted that her trial is politically-motivated and designed to destroy her as a political rival to Viktor Yanukovych, the current president. Mr Yanukovych has denied influencing the proceedings.

But many politicians in Europe and the United States are unconvinced and believe that the trial is indeed a form of political revenge. They have urged the Ukrainian government to ensure that Mrs Tymoshenko gets a fair trial, and in a surprise move, even Russia has issued a statement in Mrs Tymoshenko's defence. Meanwhile, her own supporters have taken to the streets of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to protest against her detention.