Judge refuses to free Tymoshenko from custody

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Judge refuses to free Tymoshenko from custody

Judge refuses to free Tymoshenko from custody
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A judge has turned down a request by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s lawyers to free her from detention during her trial for abuse of power.

It came as hundreds of supporters gathered outside the court calling for her release.

Police were deployed in large numbers to ensure security in one of Kiev’s main streets, where many of Tymoshenko’s followers have camped out.

She was placed into custody on Friday for contempt of court after repeatedly refusing to cooperate with proceedings.

Her husband, Alexander Tymoshenko, said he had not seen his wife over the weekend.

“I hope that the authorities will be clever enough to change these measures and that she will be freed,” he said before Monday’s hearing.

Tymoshenko argues the charges against her are politically motivated. She is accused of illegally agreeing a gas contract with Russia, damaging the economy.

“If Tymoshenko is convicted and sentenced to a long prison term, it may trigger a serious political crisis inside the establishment,” said political analyst Vadim Karasyov.

The former prime minister was arrested in court and taken to a detention centre. She had refused to stand up for the judge and repeatedly accusing him of being the president’s puppet.

One of the main forces behind the 2004 “Orange Revolution”, Tymoshenko narrowly lost to Yanukovich in last year’s presidential election. Her detention has been condemned by the EU and the US.

The EU is in talks with Ukraine with the goal of eventually forming a free trade zone.