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Viktor Yushchenko testifies against Yulia Tymoshenko

Ukraine’s ex-president says Orange revolution partner acted against national interests in signing 2009 gas deal with Russia

The former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, has testified against his Orange revolution partner, Yulia Tymoshenko, in her abuse of office trial.

The scene on Wednesday underlined the disappointment many feel in Ukraine after hopes for reform raised by the massive 2004 pro-democracy demonstrations and Yushchenko’s ascent to the presidency dissolved in factional squabbling and political paralysis.

Yushchenko claimed that the former prime minister was driven by political gain when she signed a gas deal with Russia in 2009 and betrayed Ukraine’s national interests by agreeing to what he believes was an inflated price.

“Only political motives could have played a role here,” said Yushchenko, who was greeted by angry chants from Tymoshenko’s supporters in the courtroom. “National interests were traded for political considerations.”

Yushchenko suggested that Tymoshenko, who was then preparing to run in the 2010 presidential elections, wanted to be seen as a “saviour” who ended a bitter pricing dispute with Moscow. The dispute led to Russia halting supplies to Ukraine, which caused shortages for customers across Europe.

He also claimed Tymoshenko ignored Ukrainian interests for the sake of special relations with Russian leaders, saying: “Russia had to have a pliant pro-Russian leader.”

Tymoshenko said she disagreed with Yushchenko’s testimony, but declined to dispute it in the courtroom.

“I don’t want for the Orange revolution to go on trial in this court,” she said. One supporter called Yushchenko a “bastard” and was removed from the courtroom.

Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were the central figures in the 2004-05 Orange revolution against fraudulent election in which his then rival Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner.

The result was annulled and Yushchenko won in a re-run. Five years later Yanukovych beat both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko in the 2010 presidential election.

Tymoshenko claims the abuse-of-office case against her was orchestrated by Yanukovych in order to bar her from politics. The EU and the US, among others, have also raised concerns about the trial being politically motivated and have objected to Tymoshenko’s being jailed during proceedings for contempt of court. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds