European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that Ukraine’s pre-trial detention of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 was illegal and her rights to a legal review and compensation were violated.
Yulia Tymoshenko, who is still in jail, also alleged physical mistreatment, but that complaint was not upheld by the ECHR.
The former prime minister was jailed for seven years for abuse of office over a gas deal.
Tuesday’s verdict does not overturn her prison sentence.
The ECHR will examine that verdict later, in a separate case.
ECHR has found that Ukraine’s pre-trial detention of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 was illegal and her rights to a legal review and compensation were violated
According to the Associated Press, a Ukrainian government official stormed out of the courtroom after Tuesday’s ruling.
The judgment is not final as the parties involved have three months to lodge any appeal.
Yulia Tymoshenko did not enter any claims for damages.
She was a key figure in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution and went on to become prime minister twice.
In 2009, Yulia Tymoshenko signed a 10-year contract for the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine.
At her trial two years later, prosecutors argued that she had not obtained the approval of her cabinet to sign the deal, and that it had proved ruinous for the Ukrainian economy.
The Strasbourg-based ECHR found that Yulia Tymoshenko’s detention ahead of her trial had violated her right to liberty and security because it had been ordered for an indefinite period of time.
“No risk of absconding was discernible,” it said, noting that the former prime minister had not breached her obligation not to leave town or failed to attend a court hearing.
The Ukrainian trial judge, Rodion Kireyev, had ordered her to spend the trial in custody for contempt of court.
However, the ECHR judges ruled that this “reason was not included among those which would justify deprivation of liberty”.
The ECHR also ruled that Ukraine’s judiciary lacked a procedure for reviewing the detention of suspects.
A complaint that Yulia Tymoshenko had been denied proper medical treatment in detention was thrown out by the ECHR judges.
On the contrary, they found that the local authorities “had invested efforts far beyond the normal healthcare arrangements available for ordinary detainees in Ukraine”.
They also threw out an allegation that Yulia Tymoshenko had been beaten during a transfer from prison to hospital in April 2012, pointing out that she had refused to undergo a full forensic examination at the time.
Though the ECHR did not rule on the legality of Yulia Tymoshenko’s actual conviction, her daughter Yevgenia hailed the verdict as the “first victory” on the way to her release.
“Today we are saying that this is the first victory, the first step to her full political rehabilitation and her immediate release,” she told reporters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
Ukrainian parliament’s new session got off to a dramatic start with MPs brawling on the floor of the chamber while a Femen protest against corruption was staged outside.
Members of feminist group Femen, whose motto is “We came, we undressed, we conquered”, stripped naked down to just black pants and knee-high black socks in temperatures of minus 3C.
Their stunt was an attempt to draw attention to the plight of opposition leader and ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko who was jailed for crimes not recognized in the West as punishable by prison.
Before being hauled away by police, the Femen protesters claimed parliament, which met for the first time since the “flawed” October elections in the country, was a “stable” for the “horses of oligarchs”.
Inside parliament, the opposition nationalist Svoboda group chased and manhandled two MPs, a father and son, in a bid to prevent them taking the oath.
They were physically ejected from the chamber by opposition deputies who accused them of defecting to the ruling coalition.
Ukrainian parliament’s new session got off to a dramatic start with MPs brawling on the floor of the chamber
The procedural wrangling at the opening of the new parliament threatened to push back a key vote on whether Mykola Azarov will be endorsed for a new term as prime minister.
The vote will be the first test of the support for President Viktor Yanukovich, who re-nominated Mykola Azarov.
But when the speaker formally announced that Mykola Azarov and his government were present, the chamber echoed to opposition cries of “Hanba! Hanba!” (Shame!)
MPs from Yulia Tymoshenko’s party wore black jerseys with her portrait on the front and the phrase “Freedom to Political Prisoners” on the back.
Yulia Tymoshenko remains in prison after being sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for alleged abuse of office over a gas deal with Russia.
Viktor Yanukovich’s pro-business Party of the Regions and their allies enjoyed a strong majority in the last parliament, which allowed them to push through changes to the electoral law and a law on use of the Russian language that sparked street protests.
Despite losing seats in the October elections, the results were seen as a consolidation of President Viktor Yanukovych’s power as his party still remained the biggest in parliament.
Most analysts said they believed horse-trading would ensure enough support from independents and others to secure the required 226 or more seats. But the new opposition line-up, whose leaders have ruled out any coalition with the Regions, quickly showed their teeth.
Deputies from the three main opposition parties surrounded the speaker’s rostrum, effectively blocking activation of the electronic system which would allow deputies to vote on Mykola Azarov’s nomination and the appointment of parliamentary officials.
After a prolonged stand-off, both sides went home agreeing to resume business on Thursday, according to the Regions Party.
Separately, the government put off a meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.
President Viktor Yanukovych’s party has claimed victory in Ukraine’s parliamentary election.
The Party of Regions has more than 36%, and the opposition party of Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail, has just over 21%, with one-third of party list votes counted.
It appears Viktor Yanukovych’s party is also ahead in single mandate districts, which form half of all the seats.
Western governments have condemned the jailing of Yulia Tymoshenko.
Yulia Tymoshenko leads a coalition of opposition groups – the United Opposition Fatherland bloc. She was given a seven-year jail sentence last year for abuse of power, and voted from her prison cell.
Her bloc says its own parallel vote count confirms that Viktor Yanukovych’s party is in the lead, but with a smaller percentage of votes than the party claims.
The complicated electoral system means a final result is some way off.
Thousands of observers were in Ukraine for the vote, whichViktor Yanukovych hopes will boost his democratic credentials.
His bitter rivalry with Yulia Tymoshenko dates back to the 2004 Orange Revolution, in which Tymoshenko and her allies established a pro-Western government, overturning Viktor Yanukovych’s victory in an election widely condemned as rigged.
Since his dramatic political comeback Viktor Yanukovych has forged closer relations with Moscow, Ukraine’s former master in the Soviet era.
The regional security organization OSCE is expected to give its verdict on Sunday’s election at a news conference at 14:30 local time.
Correspondents say the signs are that the Party of Regions will get a simple majority in the 450-member parliament.
Officials said the election had passed off smoothly, with a turnout of some 45%, about average for Ukraine.
Early results indicated the Communists – traditional allies of Viktor Yanukovych – were in third place with about 15%.
The new party of world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, called Udar (Punch), was on about 13%.
The ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party was also poised to surpass the 5% threshold necessary to get seats in parliament. It was polling 8%, according to the early results.
Party of Regions MP Borys Kolesnikov, a deputy prime minister, said his party was likely to dominate the single-seat constituencies.
“There are 225 single-seat constituencies and we see our candidates winning two-thirds of them,” he said.
And Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said “we are expecting that the Party of Regions will take a majority in the new parliament”.
After casting his vote in the capital, Kiev, Vitali Klitschko said he was “going to parliament to fight”.
He listed his “five key punches” as corruption, indifference of the authorities, lack of local governance, inequality and poverty.
There were 3,500 accredited foreign observers, including more than 600 from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Earlier, Western officials expressed concerns over campaigning.
In a New York Times editorial, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton cited “worrying trends” in the interim election report from the OSCE (of which Ukraine is due to take over the rotating chair in January).
These included government resources being used to favor ruling-party candidates, media restrictions, vote-buying and lack of transparency on the electoral commissions.
Opposition supporters say Yulia Tymoshenko was prosecuted and imprisoned last year in order to prevent her running in the election.
The EU indefinitely postponed its association agreement, including a free trade pact, after the jailing.
Viktor Yanukovych, who has been president for three years and faces re-election in 2015, has rejected calls to free his rival. He says she was sentenced by an independent court.
Ukraine, with a population of 46 million, has been hit by the global economic downturn and unpopular pension and tax policies.
The Party of Regions recently attempted to assuage public opinion by boosting public-sector salaries and pensions.
But the reforms exacerbated a $2 billion budget deficit and called into question the likelihood of securing IMF lending, correspondents say.
Ukrainians are voting in a parliamentary election Western officials are billing as a litmus test of its democratic credentials.
Polls opened at 08:00 and pit a main opposition grouping against President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Viktor Yanukovych has been criticized in the West for the jailing of his main rival, former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.
A number of smaller parties are aiming to capitalize on disillusionment.
These include the liberal Udar party of boxing champion Vitali Klitschko – known as Dr. Ironfist – and the far-right Svoboda party.
Polls will be open for 12 hours and while some counts will come in very quickly, a final result is expected on Monday.
Half of the seats in the 450-member parliament will be filled by elected parties on a candidate list basis.
The other half will be filled by individual candidates voted in on a first-past-the-post system.
Some 5,000 candidates are standing for election.
These are some of the most closely watched elections in Ukraine’s history, with 3,500 accredited foreign observers, including more than 600 from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Western officials have voiced concerns over campaigning.
In a New York Times editorial this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton cited “worrying trends” in the interim election report from the OSCE (of which Ukraine is due to take over the rotating chair in January).
These included government resources being used to favor ruling party candidates, media restrictions, vote-buying and lack of transparency on the electoral commissions.
Critics claim Yulia Tymoshenko was prosecuted and imprisoned last year in order to prevent her running in the election.
She is serving a seven-year prison sentence after being charged with overstepping her powers as prime minister four years ago when she signed a gas deal with Russia.
The EU indefinitely postponed its association agreement, including a free trade pact, after the jailing.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party has joined with other opposition parties to form a united front.
Viktor Yanukovych – who has been president for three years and faces re-election in 2015 – has rejected calls to free his rival, maintaining that she was sentenced by an independent court.
He insists European integration is one of his government’s main goals and will hope his pro-business party can hold on to the parliamentary majority it enjoys.
Ukraine’s 46 million-strong population has been hit by the global economic downturn and unpopular pension and tax policies.
Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions recently attempted to assuage public opinion by boosting public sector salaries and pensions – although this also exacerbated a $2 billion budget deficit and called into question the likelihood of securing IMF lending, correspondents say.
Ukrainian authorities hope a good assessment by 3,500 international election observers will reopen the door to the association agreement.
Vitali Klitschko’s popularity has grown because of his opposition to Viktor Yanukovych and because, as a newcomer, he is so far untainted by Ukraine’s corrosive politics which, correspondents say, are blighted by corruption and cronyism.
Svoboda’s strong anti-government stance and its passionate defence of Ukraine’s culture and language has also gained support, although the party is also known for racist and anti-Semitic statements.
Ukraine’s high court has rejected the appeal by jailed opposition leader and former PM Yulia Tymoshenko against her conviction for abuse of office.
Yulia Tymoshenko, currently in hospital, was jailed last October for seven years – a term confirmed by Wednesday’s ruling.
The former leader was convicted over a gas deal she signed with Russia’s Vladimir Putin while in power in 2009. She says her trial was politically motivated.
The European Court of Human Rights has begun considering her case.
Ukraine's high court has rejected the appeal by jailed opposition leader and former PM Yulia Tymoshenko against her conviction for abuse of office
Yulia Tymoshenko was accused of betraying the national interest in 2010, after her arch-rival Viktor Yanukovych had defeated her in a presidential election. The deal with Russia that she negotiated was deemed to have saddled Ukraine with enormous costs.
Viktor Yanukovych has forged closer ties with Russia, whereas Yulia Tymoshenko and former President Yushchenko sought to bring Ukraine closer to NATO and the EU.
With her distinctive plaited, blonde hair Yulia Tymoshenko was a key figure in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution. Since then she has twice served as prime minister.
Many EU politicians have echoed her criticisms of the Ukrainian authorities and in June European leaders boycotted Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine, to show their displeasure at her detention.
Yulia Tymoshenko argues that her detention was politically motivated and that there has been no judicial review. She also says the authorities neglected her medical needs and kept up round-the-clock surveillance after moving her to a hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv.