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Tymoshenko Trial: The Final Deathknell for the Orange Revolution

In the Ukraine the 1991 glow of independence has worn off and the heroine of the Orange Revolution is paying the price.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/7/2011, 6:34 PM

 

In 1991, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, 91% of the Ukrainian population voted for independence from Russia. A recent poll showed that if the referendum was held today, only a 49% plurality would vote the same way.

This change in tone can explain the current trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the braided hero of the Orange Revolution in 2004-2005.

The victory of the Orange Revolution was frittered away by bickering between Victor Yuschenko, who was fraudulently deprived of the presidency but vindicated by the Orange Revolution, and his Prime Minister Ms. Tymoshenko.

This in turn paved the way for the reversal that allowed Victor Yanukovych, the "heavy" of the Orange Revolution, to succeed Yuschenko as president. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions were considered the representatives of forces who wanted to retain close relations with Russia and were located primarily in the industrial eastern Ukraine.

Since assuming the presidency, Yanukovych has tried to strike a balance between Russia and the European Union.

Tymoshenko is accused of signing a supply contract with the Russian energy Gazprom in 2009 that, according to president Yanokuvych, cost the Ukraine $210 million. This was at the time that Russia, using the energy giant Gazprom, threatened a gas cutoff that would have seriously impacted Western Europe as well. Tymoshenko, in addition to exercising her own good judgment, was under pressure from Western Europe.

Now, if found guilty, she faces 10 years in prison.

Tymoshenko has treated the court proceedings as a political trial designed to remove her and her party as an impediment to President Yanukovych's reelection bid.

She has therefore referred to the presiding judge as a monster or a Yanukovych puppet, refuses to stand up in court, twitters from her iPad and pretends not to speak Russian.

She claims that she has been denied the right to call key witnesses including the Ernst & Young accounting firm, members of her government and officials in the state energy monopoly.

Finally Judge Rodion Kireyev decided he had taken enough insults  from the defendant, who was free on bail. Tymoshenko is now jailed for contempt.

In a parody of the Orange Revolution, 200 of her supporters tried to set up a protest encampment that was quickly surrounded by the anti-riot police. The activism has given way to indifference and her husband commented that the apparent apathy has emboldened Yanukovych to  proceed with the show trial.

It would appear that Tymoshenko's hopes now rest on foreign pressure. The United States and the United Kingdom have already expressed their "concern". Ironically, even Russia is insulted by the charges and claims that the deal was totally above board.