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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More