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Former Ukraine PM to Stand Trial for Abuse of Power Charges

Former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during an interview in Kiev, Ukraine (File)

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will stand trial in Kyiv on Wednesday, charged with abuse of power.

The former prime minister, known as the “Iron Lady,” is accused of abuse of power in connection with a contract she signed with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a gas dispute with Russia in early 2009.

Ukrainian officials allege Ms. Tymoshenko caused the former Soviet republic to lose nearly $200 million when she signed the new energy agreement with Mr. Putin after a brief interruption in gas deliveries.

Ukrainian officials also say Ms. Tymoshenko forced the president of Naftogaz to sign the deal with Russia’s Gazprom.

Ms. Tymoshenko says she is innocent and denounced Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as a rival who fears political competition. She says frame-up trials against her are taking place uninterrupted and will continue until the next parliamentary elections to prevent her from participating in politics and from helping people.

The former prime minister narrowly lost to Mr. Yanukovych in last year’s presidential elections. Ms. Tymoshenko became an international figure in 2004, with her trademark braids, as a leader of the “Orange Revolution.” The street demonstrations effectively ended Mr. Yanukovych’s first bid for the presidency.

Ms. Tymoshenko says Mr. Yanukovych is the instigator of what she called a “crooked” court action that will likely convict her of abuse of power charges.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.