Jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko lost an appeal Wednesday to overturn her conviction for abusing her power, charges that Western leaders argue are politically motivated.
Tymoshenko, a rival of current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, was sentenced last October to seven years in prison in a case that revolved around a gas deal with Russia.
The politician, dubbed the “princess” of the Orange Revolution that loosened Ukrainian ties to Russia, has alleged that the case was pursued to sideline her as an opposition leader. Besides landing her in jail, the ruling also banned her from holding office for three years.
The Ukrainian high court found that the evidence backed up her conviction and said the appeal wasn’t justified. “The punishment is in line with the seriousness of the crime," a judge said while reading the court decision Wednesday, according to Interfax Ukraine.
The ruling disappointed Western leaders. The European Commission said the Tymoshenko trial “did not respect international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal processes.” British Minister for Europe David Lidington warned that the case would make it difficult to make progress on an agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.
Tymoshenko and her backers have also taken their complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, which held a public hearing Tuesday on whether her case alleging that she was jailed for political reasons was admissible. Its deliberations will happen behind closed doors.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko hold her picture as they protest in front of Ukraine's high court Wednesday. Credit: Inna Sokolovskaya / AFP/Getty Images