Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing over charges of abuse of power, in a case she believes is politically motivated.
The heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution faces accusations relating to a gas supply agreement with Russia.
In court she denounced the proceedings as an arranged “farce”, telling the judge Rodion Kyreyev to his face that he was a “puppet of the presidential administration”.
Tymoshenko, a fierce critic of President Viktor Yanukovich, lost power in a battle for the presidency last year.
She now risks up to 10 years in jail. Prosecutors argue the Russian gas deal incurred losses to Ukraine of around 130 million euros. The current leadership has described it as a sell-out.
Outside the court in Kiev, supporters of the former prime minister shouted “defend Ukraine” and “down with puppet courts”.
European diplomats are present and monitoring the case.
The EU and the US have condemned the charges and expressed concern over judicial independence in the former Soviet country.