Tymoshenko allies disrupt Parliament
KIEV - Reuters
Supporters of the jailed opposition leader Tymoshenko chant ‘Freedom for Yulia!’ as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich (R) makes his speech in Parliament. REUTERS photoSupporters of Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko disrupted a speech by President Viktor Yanukovich Feb. 7, raucously chanting “Freedom for Yulia!” and setting the scene for a stormy October parliamentary election.
About 10 deputies from her Batkivshchyna party leapt to their feet, unfurling a banner bearing Tymoshenko’s portrait, and began a drumbeat chant as Yanukovich took his place at the rostrum to deliver a traditional speech marking the start of a new parliamentary season. They kept up a noisy barrage for 30 minutes while Yanukovich, raising his voice to be heard, exhorted opposition parties to end street protests and prepare for the vote. Tymoshenko, 51, former prime minister, was jailed in October for seven years on a charge of abuse of office linked to a 2009 gas supply deal with Russia which she brokered while in power.
Her political bloc holds 102 out of the 450 seats in a Parliament dominated by Yanukovich’s Regions Party. But opinion polls show sagging popularity for the Regions while Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna has recovered some lost ground, thanks in large part to sympathy over imprisonment.