KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s highest court on Wednesday upheld the guilty verdict against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail on abuse of office charges.
Tymoshenko was an architect of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution and a runner-up in the 2010 presidential election. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011, when she was found guilty of exceeding her powers while negotiating a gas contract with Russia while she was prime minister.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tymoshenko’s counterpart in signing the deal, has said there was nothing illegal in her actions.
Judge Alexander Elfimov said as he was reading the ruling that the court had “found no grounds to uphold (Tymoshenko’s) appeal” of the verdict, and that the prison term is “adequate to the gravity of the crime.”
Several members of the audience yelled “Shame!” on hearing the verdict.
The former prime minister’s supporters say the trial was initiated by her opponent President Viktor Yanukovich, who denies the accusations.
Lawyers for Tymoshenko are appealing the conviction in the European Court for Human Rights.
Tymoshenko’s following remains strong in Ukraine, where demonstrations at the prison in support of her are frequent. Several hundred supporters gathered Wednesday outside the courthouse in Kiev, chanting “Freedom to Yulia!”