Fiery politician continued to disregard the judge's orders right to the end

 

Julia Tymoshenko is perhaps the most charismatic politician in any of the former Soviet countries, and she showed again yesterday that she knows how to perform for the cameras.

The two months she has spent in detention during the latter stages of the trial did not prevent her from showing up with her familiar plait pulled over the top of her crown, and when the judge took breaks she addressed the dozens of cameras in the courtroom in her usual fiery language.

Ms Tymoshenko was jailed in early August for contempt of court, and continued to disregard orders from Judge Kireyev right to the end. As he read the verdict, everyone in the courtroom stood, except Ms Tymoshenko, who sat together with her husband and daughter.

At times she stopped listening altogether, whispering to her husband or giggling. Her 31-year-old daughter often nestled her head on her mother's shoulder, and the pair stared intently at Ms Tymoshenko's iPad.

At one point, she complained that she was "freezing" due to the air-conditioning in the courtroom, and after the next break she had donned a stylish cream-coloured overcoat.

Verdicts in post-Soviet courtrooms often take a long time to get to the point, and as the judge entered the third hour of his monotone reading, Ms Tymoshenko stood up and began her own speech, castigating the court and vowing to fight on.

Mr Kireyev tried to speak louder, but was no match for the former PM. At the end of the reading, there were shouts of anger at the judge, but the full-scale fight that might have been expected was avoided – the majority of Ms Tymoshenko's political allies and friends had been denied entry to the courtroom. A dozen uniformed policemen entered and led the ex-leader away; her husband and daughter looking on forlornly.

Outside, there was more drama, as thousands of supporters waved flags depicting the heart symbol that is Ms Tymoshenko's party logo.

Femen, a group of female activists, known for their topless protests, managed to climb a ledge overlooking the entrance to Kiev's main department store, and proceeded to bare their breasts and shout slogans. They were eventually removed, in a cacophony of screams, by riot police.

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