WARSAW, September 30 (Itar-Tass) —— The European Union will not sign the association agreement with Ukraine until the end of the ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko case, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said upon the end of the Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw.
He said the summit set the timeframe for signing the association agreement and the free trade document. The EU has made progress in the relations with Ukraine but it is concerned about the Timoshenko trial and will wait until the trial ends, he said.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy said that the association and free trade agreements were goals of the Ukrainian opposition, as well. He noted that the Timoshenko trial had been discussed at the negotiations with Ukraine several times and the European Union expressed its concern about the Timoshenko future and rejected the discriminative application of criminal laws to the opposition. Van Rompuy said that their fears were based on research.
Timoshenko started the Ukrainian way to Europe, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. In his words, Poland is monitoring the Ukrainian situation and does not doubt that further advancement towards Europe is the goal of the majority of Ukrainians.
However, the bad attitude to the opposition and the failure to comply with civil standards hamper the fulfillment of these aspirations and may have an effect on the negotiations, Tusk said, noting that the Ukrainian authorities were sending goodwill messages.
Timoshenko said on Friday that the Kiev Pechersky District Court had denied her the right to the last plea.
Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev offered Timoshenko to make her last plea several times before he recessed to the conference room but she said every time that she was not prepared as yet. Kireyev told Timoshenko that the last plea was a right of a defendant, not a duty.
“I know that this is my right and I do not waive it. The Criminal Code of Practice says that I can demand a confidential meeting with my lawyers any time. So I ask you for giving me this opportunity. I see no reason why not do that. Besides, you have a schedule and cannot break it,” she told the judge.
The judge said that the sentence would be pronounced on October 11 and the court recessed.
He said earlier that only the parties to the trial and the media would be present in the courtroom on the day the sentence would be announced.
The Timoshenko defense said they would appeal the possible guilty verdict. “If the guilty verdict is passed, the defense will naturally appeal to the Kiev Appeals Court,” lawyer Nikolai Siry said.
On Tuesday prosecutor Lilia Frolova demanded seven years in prison for Timoshenko. She said Timoshenko’s culpability in the gas case had been proven fully.
“On results of the court deliberations, we ask the court to find Timoshenko guilty and, bearing in mind the severity of her crime, to sentence her to seven years in prison on the basis of paragraph 3, article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and deny her the right to take certain positions for three years,” Frolova said.
In her words, no circumstances alleviating or exacerbating the culpability of Timoshenko were exposed in the course of the trial.
The prosecution also asked the court to meet the claim of Neftegaz Ukrainy for 1.51 billion hryvni (about $200 million).
The court declined the appeal of the Timoshenko defense for resuming the juridical investigation. Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev said that the parties to the trial had considered every piece of evidence and documents to which the Timoshenko side had referred.
Timoshenko was accused of the illegal signing of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that she abused of office and caused more than 1.5 billion hryvni (about $200 million) damage to Ukraine.
Ukraine cannot secede from gas agreements with Russia signed by Yulia Timoshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told the court, as he was giving testimony in the Timoshenko case.
“When I read that agreement I could not believe it had been approved by the government. The terms of that document make unilateral secession practically impossible,” he said.
The penalty for taking less gas than contracted “is harmful for the national economy,” and the pricing formula set for the period of ten years is unprofitable, Azarov said.
“The agreement betrayed the country and caused an increase of public utility charges,” he concluded.
The Russia-Ukraine gas deal 2009 strictly complies with national laws, the Russian Foreign Ministry said immediately after the arrest of Timoshenko.
“Bearing in mind the decision of the Kiev Pechersky District Court to arrest Yulia Timoshenko who is accused by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office of exceeding her authority in the signing of contracts on Russian gas supply in 2009, the Russian Foreign Ministry states the following: all the gas agreements of 2009 were signed in strict compliance with the national laws of both states and international laws and their signing was preceded by instructions from the presidents of Russia and Ukraine,” the ministry said.
The trial of Timoshenko “must be fair and unbiased, meet every provision of Ukrainian laws and provide appropriate defense and compliance with elementary humanitarian norms and rules,” the ministry said.
The Kiev Pechersky District Court repeatedly rejected the appeals for releasing Timoshenko from custody.
The trial started on June 24, and Timoshenko was arrested on August 5 for ‘hampering the establishment of truth.’