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Timoshenko's supporters clash with police in Kiev

September 05, 2011, 18:35 UTC+3

The incident occurred after Batkivshchina activists had tried to set up several tents in front of the building of Kiev’s Pechersky District Court where Timoshenko stands trial

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KIEV, September 5 (Itar-Tass) —— Supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko clashed with police in Kiev on Monday, September 5.

The incident occurred after Batkivshchina activists had tried to set up several tents in front of the building of Kiev’s Pechersky District Court where Timoshenko stands trial.

Special anti-riot police unit was sent to the scene to remove the tents, which was followed by a fracas. Several opposition members were walked to police cars.

Police have cordoned off the place, and the situation has stabilised. The tents set up by Timoshenko’s supporters in front of the courthouse remain in place.

Timoshenko said her trial has gone beyond her personality. “What is happening in court today no longer concerns me personally, you or [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich. It concerns the future of our state, Ukraine’s European strategy and European prospects,” she said.

She reminded Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev of Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski’s statement that this trial might upset the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

“It will be a Pyrrhic victory for the country. So I urge you to cancel the unlawful arrest warrant that you issued without grounds,” Timoshenko said, addressing Kireyev.

He refused to release Timoshenko from custody, said no deposit would be possible and adjourned the trial till September 1.

The judge finished reading the Timoshenko case files. After the ex-premier has spoken, the prosecution and the defence will question her. After that debates will follow.

Before the court makes the verdict, Timoshenko will be allowed to make her final statement.

Experts say that the “gas case” is far from being solved.

Timoshenko is facing charges of abuse of office while making gas agreements with Russia in 2009.

The prosecution has accused Timoshenko of acting in excess of his powers and giving directives for signing a gas contract with Russia in 2009 without the government’s consent. As a result, gas prices in Ukraine increased, but the tariff for transit, pegged to the price of gas, did not change, which caused damage to the budget in the amount of about 200 million U.S. dollars.

The criminal case was opened against Timoshenko for the gas contracts in accordance with part 3 of Article 365 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, which gives the maximum punishment of seven to ten years in prison.

In this case Timoshenko will not be able to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2012 or the presidential election in 2015.

Three criminal cases have been opened against Timoshenko and she has given a written pledge not to leave Kiev.

One concerns the use of part of proceeds from the sale of greenhouse gas quotas, which were intended for certain purposes, for financing national budget expenditures. A total of 380 million euros were misused.

Another criminal case concerns the purchase, against the government’s guarantees, and import into Ukraine of allegedly specialised Opel Combo ambulances. The damage from this transaction is estimated at 67 million hryvnia (over eight million U.S. dollars).

Timoshenko has been charged with misuse of 380 million euros received by Ukraine under the Kyoto Protocol. She may face a prison term of five to ten years. She has been asked to give a written pledge not to leave the city.

Timoshenko claims that the money was used to pay pensions.

On December 20, 2010, the Prosecutor General's Office said that as prime minister Timoshenko, “acting deliberately and driven by her personal interests,” made the decision to “use a part of the proceeds from the sale of greenhouse emission quotas intended for stated purposes for financing Ukraine's national budget expenses, primarily pension obligations.”

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, Timoshenko's decision resulted in a loss of 960,000 hryvnia (121,000 U.S. dollars) in the national budget.

Timoshenko denied the misuse of the funds.

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