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A Ukrainian court has ordered the arrest of country’s former Prime Minister and high-profile opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko.
The 50-year-old politician has been in court since June over allegations that she exceeded her powers when she made gas deals with Russia in 2009, during her term as Ukraine’s prime minister.
An application to arrest Tymoshenko came from prosecutor Liliya Frolova, who claimed statements made by the politician as well as her behavior disrupted the functioning of the court.
Tymoshenko has criticized the trial, calling it an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovich to bar her from elections. She has also refused to stand up while addressing the judge, repeatedly insulted him and questioned his objectivity.
The arrival of Ukraine’s acting prime minister, Nikolay Azarov, on the witness stand became the tipping point which pushed the judge to agree to the arrest.
Azarov said he holds Tymoshenko and her cabinet responsible for the gas crisis of 2009, which saw Russia cutting gas supply to its Ukrainian and European customers.
Yulia Tymoshenko considered her arrest “reprisal against a political opponent.” In a letter she wrote prior to her arrest, Tymoshenko also stressed that she is not “inclined to commit suicide.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also issued a statement declaring that the 2009 gas deals between Moscow and Kiev were backed by all the necessary instructions from the presidents of Russia and Ukraine and signed in strict accordance with the laws of both countries as well as international law.
The statement added that the criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko "should be fair and impartial, meet all the requirements of Ukrainian legislation in providing opportunities for protection and respect for basic humanitarian rules and regulations.”