Ukraine's Yulia Tymoshenko voices hope that 'authoritarian' enemies will fail

Speaking for the first time since being sent back to prison, Ukraine's ex-PM tells Shaun Walker that the regime will collapse

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who is now on trial for abusing high office, has sent a stark warning to current President Viktor Yanukovych, saying it is "just a matter of time" before the country is hit by another revolution.

The heroine of Ukraine's Orange Revolution, told The Independent the regime is destined to collapse.

"History has shown us that authoritarian regimes do not endure and I believe that the values of the Orange Revolution are as relevant today as they were in December 2004," wrote Ms Tymoshenko, who was handed questions through her lawyers, and answered in writing from her prison cell. "Sooner or later the oppressed people of this nation will arise."

Ms Tymoshenko is charged with abusing her authority as prime minister when negotiating a deal on gas prices with Russia in January 2009. She is also accused of misspending state funds. Prior to the trial she was on bail, but earlier this month the judge jailed her for repeated contempt of court.

She says she refuses to stand up when the judge enters as she does not recognise the court's legitimacy. The judge has "repeatedly broken Ukrainian law and international law", she says, and has refused to give her lawyers adequate time to study the paperwork related to the case.

She says the hardest part of being locked up is that she is no longer able to write to followers using Twitter. She had live tweeted from court via an iPad.

"Conditions are spartan and it is never pleasant to have your liberty taken from you but I will not complain about my lot," Ms Tymoshenko wrote.

She shares a cell with two other female inmates. The cell is reported to be relatively luxurious and has a TV and a fridge. She was initially told she must hand in her hairpins as they were a security risk, but they were returned, as evidenced by the fact she arrives at court with her trademark hairstyle – a plait pulled around her head.

"The judge has created chaos, and within that chaos we don't know what he's going to do next," said Serhiy Vlasenko, Ms Tymoshenko's head counsel. "One thing that seems certain is that the verdict has been pre-decided from above."

Mr Vlasenko is banned from the trial for disrespecting the judge. He complained that of 30 witnesses the defence asked to call, the judge approved just two. Mr Vlasenko said that prior to her arrest, Ms Tymoshenko gave him a note in which she said she would not commit suicide. "I will never end my life with suicide," the note said, referencing two cases of Ukrainian figures who died in suspicious circumstances but were ruled as suicides.

Together with Viktor Yushchenko, Ms Tymoshenko led the Orange Revolution, when popular protests overturned a fraudulent triumph for Mr Yanukovych and propelled them to power. The team fell out and amid bickering and allegations of corruption, Mr Yanukovych won the presidency last year.

Ms Tymoshenko says the trial, which could see her jailed for 10 years, is a bid to bar her from future elections.

"It must seem strange to everyone that if I am convicted on trumped-up charges, I will be banned for standing for election, but Viktor Yanukovych, a twice-convicted violent felon, was and remains able to run for election," Ms Tymoshenko wrote.

Rights groups say there has been a rolling back of political and media freedoms since Mr Yanukovych took office.

But he has not proved the Kremlin puppet many in Europe feared, instead seeking closer ties with the EU and irking Moscow. In a tense meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week, no new agreement was made on the ongoing saga of gas transit. The Kremlin has made a statement in support of Ms Tymoshenko, saying she should not be on trial.

Mr Yanukovych last week refused to intervene in the case, saying it would be improper. He denied that any of the cases against Ms Tymoshenko and her former ministers were politically motivated. Ms Tymoshenko urged the international community to pressure the Ukrainian authorities over the trial.

"My arrest sends a message that Yanukovych's authoritarian regime recognises no limits and... is intent on crushing all opposition," she wrote.

"It has trampled on European values and standards of behaviour. This sort of behaviour should not be tolerated."

The Orange revolutionary

* Born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, 1960. Married to businessman Oleksandr Tymoshenko. Their daughter is married to a heavy metal musician from Leeds.



* Worked as an economist, in the 1990s became involved in the oil business, during which time she is believed to have amassed a significant fortune.



* Deputy prime minister in 1999. Led Orange Revolution with Viktor Yushchenko in 2004. Prime Minister in 2005 and from 2007-10, when she had stormy relations with Yushchenko.



* "Honestly, I don't think about where I'll be a few years from now, I think about where my country will be," she told The Independent earlier this year. However, she has a reputation for ambition and a desire to be president.



* She wears her hair in a fairy-tale plait, and often wears specially made dresses, usually with high necklines, puffy shoulders and a liberal use of bows, buttons and lace, in a style that has been described as "sexualised Victorianism".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen