KIEV, September 6 (Itar-Tass) —— Members of the parliament faction of Ukraine’s opposition Batkivshchyna party led by ex-prime minister Yulia Timoshenko on Tuesday left the parliament as soon as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich arrived there to speak at the opening ceremony of the new parliament session. The move is designed to demonstrate their protest against Timoshenko’s arrest and trial.
The opposition faction members appeared in the parliament building wearing black T-shirts decorated with slogans reading “Freedom to Ukraine,” and “Batkivshchyna Above All” and photos of their leader, Yulia Timoshenko, behind bars. “We want to show our attitude to the trials that are in progress at Ukrainian courts,” lawmaker Sergei Vlasenko told journalists.
Ex-prime minister Yulia Timoshenko is facing charges of abuse of office while concluding gas agreements with Russia in 2009. The prosecution accuses Timoshenko of acting in excess of her 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.