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Ukraine

Yearbook 2011

Ukraine. The year was dominated by bitter power struggles between President Viktor Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko, who had lost the presidential election against Yanukovych in 2010. In April, prosecutors launched a preliminary investigation against Tymoshenko, where she was suspected of abusing her power as head of government. Tymoshenko felt that Yanukovych was behind and that he was trying to stop his most dangerous political competitor.

2011 Ukraine

According to Countryaah official site, former Interior Minister Yury Lutsenko of Tymoshenko was also accused of abusing his position. He had been incarcerated since the end of last year. Lutsenko also considered himself a political revenge, and in the spring he carried out a hunger strike in prison.

In July, Tymoshenko was then brought to trial on charges of violating her powers as prime minister. The lawsuit involved the settlement with Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that ended the gas conflict in 2009 and that Tymoshenko ordered the state gas company Naftogaz to sign with Russian Gazprom. The agreement secured gas deliveries to Ukraine, but meant that the country had to pay full European market price from 2010. Tymoshenko was accused of causing Ukraine's large fees, but she herself claimed that the trial was staged by President Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko's protesting supporters set up tent camps outside the Kiev court. When former President Viktor Yushchenko appeared in court in August, he testified against his former ally from the 2004 Orange Revolution. Yushchenko supported the prosecutor's version, which was a severe setback for Tymoshenko.

The verdict against Tymoshenko fell in October and resulted in seven years in prison. She was also sentenced to pay damages to the state of 1.5 billion Ukrainian hryvnia, about SEK 1.3 billion, according to the prosecutor the loss she caused the state. In addition, she was forbidden to stand in elections during her prison stay, ie. the parliamentary elections in 2012 and the presidential elections in 2015. She would continue to perform three years of community service. Tymoshenko described the trial as a political lynching, claiming that the verdict had been written in advance and was Yanukovych's work.

The leaders of the USA, Germany, the EU, the Russian Federation and others. had long tried to convince President Yanukovych that the indictment against Tymoshenko would be dropped and that she should be released. The EU warned that the free trade agreement under negotiation was under threat. However, Tymoshenko itself called on the EU to sign agreements with Ukraine. She said that the country's approach to the EU should not be jeopardized by the judgment against her. The European Parliament described the prison sentence as a violation of human rights and an abuse of justice. A planned EU meeting with President Yanukovych was canceled. Amnesty International also saw the verdict as political.

Tymoshenko urged its supporters to continue the fight against "Yanukovych's dictatorship". After she was imprisoned, new charges were brought against her, among other things. for embezzlement, tax breaks and theft. Her health deteriorated in prison, and when her appeal of the prison sentence was upheld in November, she herself could not attend court. Tymoshenko's daughter warned that her life was in danger, and President Yanukovych agreed that she would receive medical care outside the prison. After Tymoshenko's appeal was rejected, at the end of the year she was moved from prison to a so-called penal colony 45 kilometers from Kiev.

The Ukrainian government tried to revoke the disputed gas agreement of 2009. The Russian Federation rejected allegations that the agreement was unfair, but Moscow agreed to new negotiations, and according to Kiev there was hope for a new settlement.

During the year, a trial was underway on Ukraine's most notable and brutal political murders. Former police chief Oleksij Pukachi was indicted in April on charges of kidnapping, strangling and beheading the regime-critical journalist Georgij Gongadze in 2000. The accused had already previously admitted, and during the trial, he claimed he acted on the orders of then-President Leonid Kuchma. In a tape recording, Kuchma is heard discussing how to silence the journalist, who worked to expose corruption. Kuchma denied having had to do with the murder, and his supporters claimed that the charges were politically motivated and that President Yanukovych was behind them. It was rejected by Yanukovych. At the end of the year, the investigation against Kuchma was closed, after a court rejected the tape recording as evidence.

President Yanukovych had difficult financial problems to deal with during the year. In January, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to withhold payments of a $ 15 billion loan package, as Ukraine's pace of reform was not satisfied. As one of the conditions for obtaining loans, the Ukrainian Parliament decided to raise the retirement age for women gradually from 55 to 60 years. The decision led to outraged protests. The government hoped for GDP growth of 4-5% for 2011, but the economy had a long way to go to recover from the deep fall of the crisis year 2009.

President Yanukovych also met with protests in his stronghold in the hometown of Donetsk in the east. There, hunger strikers who were involved in the clean-up after the Chernobyl disaster, but now have their pensions lowered. Veterans of the war in Afghanistan also protested. Demonstrations were held in several places, including in Kiev.

In October, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus and five other states in Eastern Europe and Central Asia signed a free trade agreement. The others were Moldova, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Ukrainian politicians suggested that the negative attitude of the EU (due to the judgment against Tymoshenko) drove Ukraine to join the Customs Union led by the Russian Federation.

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