Tymoshenko urges Ukrainians to rally
KHARKIV - Reuters
A demonstration poster depicts Tymoshenko with a crown of thorns. REUTERS photoJailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on Nov. 22 called on people to go out on to the streets to protest against the government’s decision not to sign a trade deal with the European Union, her lawyer said.
The lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, read a letter from the 52-year-old ex-prime minister in which she wrote: “I am calling on all people to react to this as they would to a coup d’etat - that is: get out on to the streets.”
Her call, which followed a government decision on Nov. 21 to drop plans to sign a trade and cooperation with the EU and move back to closer economic ties with Russia, had echoes of her role as co-leader of the Orange Revolution protests of 2004-5. Those protests, in which the peasant-braided Tymoshenko became known as a fiery revolutionary denouncing sleaze and electoral fraud, doomed the first bid for election of President Viktor Yanukovich.
Yanukovich went on to make a comeback and narrowly beat her for the presidency in February 2010.
She was subsequently jailed for seven years in 2011 for abuse of office after what Western governments say was a political trial.
She is being held under prison guard in a hospital in the northern Kharkiv where she is being treated for back trouble.
The EU has been trying to secure her release while at the same time negotiating the signing of an association agreement. Now that the plans to sign this agreement have ended Tymoshenko’s fate is uncertain and she may face a prolonged stay in jail.