News / Europe

Ukraine Trial Uniting Ukraine's Political Opposition

Pro-Tymoshenko demonstrators in Kyiv, Aug 15, 2011
Pro-Tymoshenko demonstrators in Kyiv, Aug 15, 2011
James Brooke

It may sound like the battle of the bands, but loudspeakers in Kyiv are dueling over democracy.  Our correspondent reports from the tent camps outside the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the opposition politician known the world over for her trademark peasant braid.

Today, Ukraine’s democracy can be heard five blocks away.

Booming down the central avenue of Kyiv, the capital, towers of  loudspeakers proclaim the innocence or guilt of Yulia Tymoshenko, the nation’s former prime minister.

Twenty meters away, in a 19th century courthouse, Ms. Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s leading opposition politician, grimly sits through another day of her trial for abuse of power.

On the street, rival camps give rival views of the trial.

With a red marker, Olga Mola, a 30-year-old school teacher, paints  ‘I heart Yulia’ posters.

She says if Ms. Tymoshenko is convicted, it will be the end of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine.

Ms. Tymoshenko is not on trial for stealing money.  She is on trial for signing a gas deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2009.  The deal ended a crippling mid-winter gas shortage in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, but now prosecutors charge that she abused her powers signing a 10-year deal at high prices.

Near Olga’s white tent, Miroslav Nabyl, a 33-year-old scrap metal worker, complains that Europe is turning its back on Ms. Tymoshenko.

He charges that Europe was grateful three years ago when Ms. Tymoshenko acted to end the Russian gas cutoff.  Now, he asks, "Why is Europe quiet?"

France, Germany and Sweden recently criticized the trial.  Political analysts say that a conviction could provoke the European Union to delay a free trade pact with Ukraine.

From Washington, Obama administration officials also criticize the trial, saying it is an example of selective justice and only opposition figures are on trial for corruption in Ukraine.

Five steps from the Tymoshenko tent camp, anti-American rhetoric blares from loudspeakers at the camp for supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych.  Speakers charge the United States with interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

At the Yanukovych camp, a guard in a black windbreaker physically shoves me back to the sidewalk.  A second attempt, at a different entrance, is more successful.

As young men in black jackets and skinhead haircuts wave anti-Tymoshenko banners, Ludmila Soloviova, a 29-year-old organizer, agrees to talk:

Ludmila says that a politician who steals should not be able to hide from justice just because he or she is an opposition leader.

Taped to the black banners of Ludmila’s compound are the slogans “Theft of the People’s Property: Shame” and “Tymoshenko leader of an organized criminal group.”  In a dig at the fashion sense of Ukraine’s former prime minister, one poster reads “Louis Vuitton Medals: The Brand of the Opposition.”

Far from the passions of the street, Alyona Getmanchuk directs the Institute of World Peace, a Kyiv research organization.  She says President Yanukovych made a big political mistake by prosecuting Yulia Tymoshenko.

Getmanchuk says that by putting Ms. Tymoshenko on trial, Ukraine’s president has united the opposition, drawn sympathy for his main political rival, and, unwittingly, started her political rehabilitation.

On the foreign policy side, she says, Ukraine’s president is uniting East and West.

Europe and the United States are critical of the trial.  But criticism also comes from the Kremlin.

Moscow, she says, opposes the trial because it calls into question a gas supply deal signed by Prime Minister Putin.  In addition, by criticizing the trial, Moscow focuses attention on a weak spot in Kyiv’s drive to cut a trade deal with Europe - the fragile state of democracy in Ukraine.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs