News / Europe

Tymoshenko’s Trials Cloud Ukraine’s Democratic Future

Tymoshenko’s Trials Cloud Ukraine’s Democratic Futurei
|| 0:00:00
X
James Brooke
August 02, 2012 11:43 PM
Ukraine has started a 90-day campaign period before elections for parliament on October 28. But the most popular opposition politician cannot run. James Brooke reports from Kyiv.
James Brooke
KYIV— Ukraine has started a 90-day campaign before elections for parliament on October 28. But Yulia Tymoshenko, the nation’s most popular opposition politician, can’t run.

Tymoshenko, who lost the 2010 presidential elections by only three percentage points, has been in jail for the past year.
 
VOA visited Tymoshenko’s fortress-like party headquarters in Kyiv and found her 32-year-old daughter Yevhenia sitting in the same chair, in the same office, where her mother had given us an interview 18 months earlier.

Yevhenia Carr, daughter of former Ukrainian former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in Kyiv, October 13, 2011.Yevhenia Carr, daughter of former Ukrainian former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in Kyiv, October 13, 2011.
x
Yevhenia Carr, daughter of former Ukrainian former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in Kyiv, October 13, 2011.
Yevhenia Carr, daughter of former Ukrainian former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in Kyiv, October 13, 2011.
“What is going on is a build up of dictatorship in the Ukraine,” says Yevhenia. “Everybody feels it, feels this fear, this pressure of this machine that cannot be stopped from the inside, by Ukrainian forces.”

Her mother is serving a seven-year jail sentence for abusing her authority in 2009, when she was Ukraine’s prime minister. She is to be back in court on August 14 to face 15-year-old embezzlement charges. After that, prosecutors promise a murder charge.

The stress has landed Ukraine’s golden-haired opposition leader in a hospital with back pains and skin rashes. Her daughter Yevhenia left her life and husband in London to come home to Kyiv to try to win her mother’s release.

“My mother is in a hospital controlled by the regime,” she says.  “Doctors are under pressure, as well as prosecutors and judges.  And we fear for her life because every day there she’s under their control, and they can do anything to her. That is why they don’t want to let her go. They want to keep her under control, not being able to speak out.”
 
  • Supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko take part in a rally in a tent camp in central Kyiv, Ukraine, May 30, 2012.
  • Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite visits imprisoned former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a hospital in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, May 11, 2012.
  • Supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko take part in a rally in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 27, 2012.
  • Riot police block supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko outside the Pecherskiy District Court in Kyiv, Ukraine, August 5, 2011.
  • Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko greets supporters during a rally on the occasion of the 169th birth anniversary Ukrainian poet, artist and humanist Taras Shevchenko in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 9, 2010.
  • Ukraine's then Prime Minister and the Presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during her news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 4, 2010.
  • A worker pastes up a huge poster of Ukraine's then Prime Minister and Presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, during a campaign in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 14, 2010.

The man behind Yulia Tymoshenko’s woes is Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine. The first time he ran against the opposition in 2004, he narrowly lost. Viktor Yushchenko became president and Yulia Timoshenko became prime minister.

Analysts say President Yanukovych vows to never let that happen again.
 
Olexiy Haran, a political scientist at Kyiv Mohyla University, says, "He believes that he was humiliated during in 2004, so he needs a kind of revenge, and also to crush his political opponents. So I believe he is afraid of Tymoshenko.”

After one year in jail, Yulia Tymoshenko has bounced back in opinion polls. She now rivals President Yanukovych in popularity. Her supporters are mobilizing as Ukraine starts three months of campaigning for parliamentary elections at the end of October.

On Kyiv’s main avenue, Kreschatik, Alla Nedelka runs a Tymoshenko solidarity camp. She says Yulia Tymoshenko is the only dangerous rival for President Yanukovych, and one year in jail has helped to move the popular mood in Tymoshenko’s favor.

Political scientist Sergiy Kudelia believes Ukraine’s president is imitating Vladimir Putin. The Russian president has kept his chief rival, former oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in jail for almost eight years.

"He hopes that Tymoshenko will become another Khodorkovsky,” says Kudelia who has taught Ukrainian politics at George Washington University. He says Ukraine’s president hopes the West will complain about it, will criticize him, but then, eventually,  will agree with the fact she will be jailed for a long time.

Yevhenia Tymoshenko’s father is in exile in Prague, her mother faces trials in Kharkiv, but Yevhenia fights on.
 
“We are asking the democratic world not to leave us, and to continue the pressure, and to use all the instruments they have to stop the building up of dictatorship,” she says, sitting in her mother’s chair.  “Because that is most important for us is: not to reason with the regime or to compromise with it.  It is not going to work.”
 
In Ukraine, Europe’s sixth most-populous nation, the future of democracy may now be intertwined with the future of Yulia Tymoshenko.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid