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August 15, 2011

Tymoshenko's Trial Spawns Topless Protest

Activists from a Ukrainian women's group have staged a topless protest in a show of anger at the trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Two women from the group FEMEN climbed on top of a prison van Tuesday outside the court in Kyiv, stripped to the waist, and denounced against Ukraine's police and politicians, saying they were the ones who belong in custody.

After a few minutes, police carried the women off the van and took them away.

FEMEN activists regularly stage topless public protests to draw attention to issues from the exploitation of women to corruption.

Tymoshenko is charged with abuse of power stemming from a 2009 deal that ended Russia's cutoff of natural gas to Ukraine. President Viktor Yanukovych's government says she broke the law by not consulting with her government before signing the deal.  
Tymoshenko has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated and says the trial is part of a political vendetta by President Yanukovych.  

The former prime minister is one of about 400 officials under investigation for crimes allegedly committed while in office. Critics say the only cases that have come to trial involve political figures opposed to President Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko rose to fame in 2004 as a leader of Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" street campaign, which forced the Supreme Court to toss out the results of a disputed presidential election won by Yanukovych. The two competed in last year's presidential election, which Yanukovych won.

Tymoshenko is expected to be the main opposition candidate in next year's election.  She will not be eligible to run if she is convicted.