Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the jail term handed to former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was unfair.
Tymoshenko was sentenced by a court in Kiev to seven years in jail and barred from holding public office for three years.
Putin, who has declared he will stand again for his country’s presidency next year, told reporters in Moscow he could not comprehend the severity of the sentence.
“I do not understand why she was sentenced to seven years. Tymoshenko did not sign any contracts. The deals were signed between two commercial entities: Gazprom and its Ukrainian partner,” Putin said.
The European Union has also reiterated its condemnation of Tymoshenko’s trial.
Diplomats said the two-time premier’s criminal conviction could hamper planned free trade agreements with Kiev.
Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament, said: “If an appeal is possible, the verdict should be reconsidered.”