A Kiev court on Tuesday sentenced former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in jail for ‘exceeding her powers’.
The court said Tymoshenko committed a criminal offence when she ignored a cabinet vote and ordered state-run Naftogaz to sign a gas import deal with Russia in 2009.
EU diplomats praised that deal at the time for ending a row with Russia over the price Kiev paid for gas.
Prosecutors were seeking a seven-year term, arguing the deal was economically harmful to Ukrainian interests.
Tymoshenko responded to the sentence by likening Ukraine to “the Stalinist regime of 1937”. She urged her supporters “to continue fighting for democracy.”
The 50-year-old said the case was politically motivated and merely a bid by President Viktor Yanukovich to sideline her.
Tymoshenko was a leading light in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, which kept Yanukovich out of power.
The verdict could scupper Yanukovich’s bid for closer ties with Brussels.
Aides to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashtion previously described the case as “the application of selective justice”.
EU officials had warned that jailing Tymoshenko could harm Ukraine’s push to sign free trade and association agreements with the 27-member bloc.
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