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In May of this year, the Ukraine made headlines with the imprisoned opposition leader and former Prime Minister Julija Timoschenko. At that time, the 27 EU Member States decided to boycott all games of the UEFA Champions league that took place/were held in the Ukraine as a protest against the policy of the Ukrainian President Wiktor Janukowytsch and the controversial conviction and unhuman conditions of imprisonment of Timoschenko.
On 11th October 2011, Timoschenko was sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of 142 million euros for the abuse of authority while negotiating a contract over the supply of natural gas with Russia. The former Orange Revolution leader was accused of exceeding her authority by signing the 10-year gas agreement with Russia in 2009, without having the cabinet approval for the execution of the contract. Furthermore, prosecutors argued that the agreed price was too high and therefore damaging and disadvantageous to the state gas company Naftohaz and Ukraine's economy. Apart from this, she has also been banned from holding a political office for three years following her imprisonment.
Timoschenko, the leader of the democratic Orange Revolution of 2004, prompted with her peaceful protests against the election fraud by Janukowytsch's camp, the election rerun in which the western oriented Juschtschenko emerged as the victor. She sees the trial as a staged vendetta by Janukowytsch, who defeated her after all at the 2010 presidential election. The Ukrainian President was repeatedly accused by the global public of exerting direct influence on the Ukrainian judiciary during the criminal procedures in order to eliminate his strongest political opponent.
Both the EU and the United States criticized the judgment/ruling as politically motivated and viewed it as an abuse of power. In a declaration published by the EU, the Ukrainian authorities have been called on to grant Mrs Timoschenko and other former members of the government fair appeal proceedings and not to interfere in her candidacy at the next election. Moreover, the EU has postponed the signing of the bilateral trade agreement with the Ukraine for an indefinite period of time.
Even the Russian Prime Minister at that time, Wladimir Putin, bashed the sentence of the opposition leader and emphasized/stressed the legitimacy of the contract. As the case of Timoschenko shows, there exist reasonable doubts about the rule of law and the political stability in the Ukraine.