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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid