Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been found guilty of abuse of office and sentenced to seven years in jail.
The verdict announced in the last couple of hours with be seen in the West as apolitically-tinged verdict.
Tymoshenko,who has repeatedly denounced the proceedings as politically motivated and accusing the country's President Viktor Yanukovych to remove her from the political arena,was charged withillegally concluding a gas deal with Russia that had lost the Ukrainian treasury the equivalent of £118 million.
The verdict will be seen as another nail in the coffin of Ukraine's dallianec with democracy since the so called Orange revolution of 2004 in which Tymoshenko played a leading role.
“This is an authoritarian regime that is distancing Ukraine from Europe, while using European rhetoric,” Ms. Tymoshenko said in the courtroom. Mr. Yanukovich, she said, “is bringing Ukraine back to 1937,” the height of the Stalinist purges.
Yanukovich narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in the 2010 elections.
Commenting after the sentence was announced, Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign affairs chief said that “The verdict comes after a trial which did not respect the international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal process,” , said in a later statement. “This unfortunately confirms that justice is being applied selectively in politically motivated prosecutions of the leaders of the opposition and members of the former government.”