News / Europe

    Tymoshenko Trial is Test of Democracy in Ukraine

    Ludmila Aleksandrovna, 62, a Yulia Tymoshenko supporter protests in Kyiv, August 15, 2011
    Ludmila Aleksandrovna, 62, a Yulia Tymoshenko supporter protests in Kyiv, August 15, 2011

    Multimedia

    James Brooke

    Nearly 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a grudge match between two political giants is testing democracy in Ukraine, the second most populous country to emerge from the Soviet Union, after Russia.

    In a sidewalk camp outside a Kyiv courthouse, photos of Yulia Tymoshenko are everywhere.  But the former prime minister, with her trademark golden braids, is out of sight.

    The closest her supporters get is in the evenings, when she is whisked back to her prison cell in a windowless gray police van.

    One year after narrowly losing Ukraine's presidential elections, Tymoshenko is on trial, accused of abusing her powers when she signed a gas deal with Russia in her role as prime minister.

    Outside the courtroom, is her chief of staff, Mykhaylo Livinsky.  He says democracy is on trial.  He says the losers of the Orange Revolution are now putting the winners on trial.

    Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at a court hearing in Kyiv, Aug 11, 2011
    Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at a court hearing in Kyiv, Aug 11, 2011

    Back in 2004, Tymoshenko helped lead the Orange Revolution that annulled the fraudulent election of Viktor Yanukovych.  But last year, Yanukovych beat Tymoshenko in elections widely seen as fair.

    Now, her supporters see the trial as political payback that threatens democracy.

    Olga Mola, 30, a school teacher, is camping on a downtown sidewalk, protesting the trial of her political heroine.  She says that a guilty verdict would mean that Ukraine is a lawless nation.

    But Ludmila Soloviova and other supporters of President Yanukovych say the fight against corruption has to start somewhere.  She says it is not logical that a politician suspected of corruption cannot be put on trial simply because she is popular.

    Ukraine Foreign Ministry Spokesman Oleg Voloshyn is getting used to combating criticism coming from capitals as diverse as Washington and Moscow.

    "We are asked not to prosecute her just because she is an opposition leader?  She is not Nelson Mandela.  She is not Mahatma Ghandi.  She is not Martin Luther King.  She is nothing like that.  She is suspected to be guilty of high treason of Ukrainian national interest," said Voloshyn.

    Voloshyn says Ukraine's president does not control the nation's courts.

    But Institute of World Policy Director Alyona Getmanchuk says Ukrainians sympathize with underdogs.  She says the trial is rehabilitating Tymoshenko, after her poor performance as prime minister.

    She says Ukrainians and foreigners see this as a political case, not a criminal case.  Like many analysts, Getmanchuk sees the trial as the latest chapter in a long-running grudge match between the nation's two most powerful politicians.

    Getmanchuk adds thats the president's effort to get rid of his main political rival may backfire.  Time in jail may boost Tymoshenko's popularity.

    But a conviction, even followed by a suspended sentence, would render Tymoshenko ineligible to run for office in next year's parliamentary elections or the 2015 presidential election.

    Yuli Weeks' slideshow:

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.