Andrei Lubenski: Yulia Timoshenko free. A victory of the opposition or another manoeuvre of the authorities?
Yesterday, a Kyiv court complied with the complaint of Ukrainian ex-premier Yulia Timoshenko’s defence lawyer and cancelled the procurator’s arrest warrant issued February 13th. Ms. Timoshenko was freed directly in the courtroom. The procurator’s office reacted negatively to the court ruling and is likely to appeal. Ms. Timoshenko is accused of giving bribes to former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, natural gas smuggling, tax evading and other numerous wrongdoings allegedly committed by her when running the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine corporation. Prime Minister Yushchenko, unlike the procurator’s office, welcomed the court ruling. In this connection, some observers speak of another victory of the opposition. Others, however, think it was another tactical manoeuvre of the authorities – to prove Ms. Timoshenko’s guilt would be not that easy as it may seem. Anyway, the official Kyiv seems to be making a welcome gesture signifying it is ready to compromise. Only time will show to what extent the message is gotten. In the meantime, the Ukrainian procurator’s office has already lodged a protest against the court ruling.