Moscow says "anti-Russia subtext" to Tymoshenko saga

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 11, 2011 9:55 AM
Moscow says "anti-Russia subtext" to Tymoshenko saga

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Tuesday it saw an "obvious anti-Russian subtext" to Ukraine's conviction and sentencing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for abuse of office in relation to a 2009 gas deal that she brokered with Russia.

"The gas agreements in question were drawn up in strict compliance with the laws of Russia and Ukraine and the applicable norms of international law," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.

"In relation to that, we cannot help but notice an obvious anti-Russian subtext to the entire saga."

Tymoshenko's three-month trial ended on Tuesday as a Ukrainian judge handed her a seven-year sentence -- the maximum sought by state prosecutors -- in a case widely regarded in the West as politically orchestrated.

Moscow's reading of the case contradicted its traditional loyalties in Ukraine. Tymoshenko was a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought pro-Western leader Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency.

Russia has struck a much softer tone toward Kiev since 2010 and the beginning of the term of current President Viktor Yanukovich, who is seen as closer to Moscow.

The deal struck between Ukraine and Russia in 2009 was greeted with relief by the EU since it ended a pricing dispute that led to disruptions in gas supplies to parts of the bloc.

Ukraine has demanded that Russia renegotiate the gas contracts. But talks have proceeded at a snail's pace and include conditions from Moscow that would force Ukraine into a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

That would rule out a free trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union that Kiev wants to nail down this year.

On Tuesday, Russia said it would continue seeking to find "mutually acceptable decisions in the gas sphere" with Ukraine.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel; and Mark Heinrich)