Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yushchenko had to run a gauntlet of angry supporters of the country’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko as he attended court in Kiev to testify against her.
They chanted shame and pelted Yushchenko’s car with eggs after he condemned a 2009 gas supply deal with Russia over which Tymoshenko faces abuse of office charges.
In court Yushchenko bolstered the prosecution’s case by saying the gas supply agreement was political.
He said the basis for the deal, which was signed after talks between Tymoshenko and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,had been “a political scenario” rather than based on economics. “Russia needed an obliging leader,” he added.
Outside the court Yushchenko called the whole trial political: “I’m sad with what’s happening on both sides of this case. Believe me, this makes it hard to get to the truth, and makes this judgment political and destabilises the political situation in Ukraine.”
In court Tymoshenko refused to cross-examine Yushchenko saying that would only serve the ends of the current president Viktor Yanukovich and she did not want to give him the satisfaction of seeing the two former allies squabbling.
“I will not ask questions because I don’t want this court to pass judgment on the ‘Orange Revolution’. I want everything that Yushchenko says to be on his conscience. God will be his judge,” she said.
Tymoshenko has accused Yanukovich of being behind the trial as part of a vendetta to get her jailed and keep her out of politics.
In 2004 Yushchenko and Tymoshenko together led the mass protests known as the Orange Revolution that overturned Yanukovich’s fraudulent presidential election victory.
Yushchenko was then elected president and made Tymoshenko his premier but their relationship soured and this court case finalises the split.