Although illness prevented Yulia Tymoshenko from attending the opening of her appeal against a corruption conviction, her supporters were determined to make their presence felt outside the court in Kiev, where they staged a noisy demonstration.
The Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister was jailed for seven years on charges of abuse of office after a trial she claims was politically motivated. Her lawyers have adopted a strategy of highlighting what they say is the unfairness of the current proceedings and new charges.
Lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko told euronews: “I would remind you that last Thursday there was an unprecedented and unlawful court hearing in her prison cell and she could not even stand up. On Friday, she was inspected in her cell because she could not walk. Yesterday I met her again in her cell because she is not able to walk. It would take Jesus Christ and not a prison Gestapo doctor to cure her now.”
The EU supports Tymoshenko’s claims and appears close to calling off an EU/Ukrainian summit next week
Sergio Cantone, our correspondent in Ukraine, said: “The Tymoshenko appeal is being held up by legal arguments between the defence and the court. Her lawyers want the judges removed because, they say, they are President Yanukovich’s puppets. But underlying these skirmishes is a complex chess game between the government and the opposition in Ukraine.”