KIEV, Ukraine, Aug. 5 (UPI) — Police officers Friday escorted a vehicle transporting Ukrainian opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to jail, her lawyer said.
A court in Kiev backed a motion to arrest Tymoshenko for abuses and obstruction during her trial for alleged misdealing involving a 2009 natural gas deal with Russian energy company Gazprom.
“Because of regular violations, interference in establishing the truth and violating courtroom rules of behavior the court rules to change the restrictive measure to arrest,” her Web site quoted the trial judge as saying.
Her legal representative said hundreds of police vehicles escorted Tymoshenko’s convoy to prison. Hundreds of her supporters, including members of Parliament, formed a human chain in protest outside the Kiev court.
Tymoshenko is charged with abuse of power in a 2009 deal that broke a natural gas impasse with Russia. Prosecutors say the deal cost the country around $440 million at a time when Ukraine’s economy was greatly affected by the global economic meltdown.
Kiev claims Tymoshenko’s deal was brokered without the consent of the Cabinet.
She lost a 2010 election battle for president against President Viktor Yanukovych. Her defense teams claims the charges against her are politically motivated.
Washington in June complained that Kiev’s focus on Tymoshenko was “out of proportion” and “creates the appearance of a political motive.”