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Ukraine's ex-PM jailed for disrespecting court


Ukraine's former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was locked up yesterday, after a judge accused her of systematically disrespecting the court in a case against her that supporters say is politically motivated.

Ms Tymoshenko is accused of abusing her power as prime minister when she negotiated a deal on gas prices with Russia in 2009, and also of misusing funds the government received after signing the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

She faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty, but denies the charges. She says they are trumped up by supporters of Viktor Yanukovych, the President and her arch rival. If convicted, she will be ineligible for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Police ushered her from court, acting on the orders of the judge. Previously she has been bailed on the condition that she stays in Kiev.

But the judge yesterday accepted a prosecution request that she should be taken into custody in view of her "continual obstruction" of the trial.

"To say this trial is a circus gives it too much credibility," Ms Tymoshenko said before being led away.

"It is politically motivated and demeans Ukraine on the international stage. It saddens me greatly that our country has come to this."