Both the Ukrainian and the international media packed the small court room, while MPs from Yulia Tymoshenko's political party, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, including her staunchest political allies, were not let in. Only representatives of the media were allowed into the court room, while the judge ordered the special forces to block those from the opposition at the building’s doorsteps and in the courtyard.
With all of the benches having been cleared out, any journalists who were able to get through the police cordons and protesters rampaging on Kreshchatyk, Kiev’s main street, were forced to hear the verdict standing. Tymoshenko, in sticking to her traditional reaction to the Pechersky Court case against her, one she refers to only as a show trial, remained seated.
Ukraine’s Channel 5 and Euronews broadcasted the proceedings live, and the public interest in the case was through the roof. On the eve of the verdict’s being read, there were reported terrorist threats that, supposedly, could take place smack dab in the court room.
Tymoshenko was escorted to the court house by armoured police car at 7:45 in the morning local time. The former prime minister, dressed in a light-coloured dress with an Orthodox cross around her neck, greeted the public: “Glory to Ukraine!” She kissed her daughter and hugged her husband. Together with their attorneys they made up Tymoshenko’s defence team. Now, Tymoshenko had as many opportunities to make statements to the press as the court recesses allowed her to. Over just three hours of time four recesses were declared, all for technical reasons.
Right from the get go there was no point in counting on a not-guilty verdict. Judge Rodion Kireyev, flipping through the pages of the verdict, announced: “…Guilty of abuse of authority in signing the 2009 gas contract with Russia and of inflicting Naftogaz of Ukraine with 1.5 billion hryvnias in damages.” The state prosecution, as we know, asked the court to sentence Tymoshenko to seven years in prison.
Aleksandr Tymoshenko, Yulia’s husband, interrupted Kireyev’s as he announced the verdict in a rather monotone manner: “Stop tormenting the defendant! Turn off the air conditioning!”
There in fact was an air conditioner switched on behind Tymoshenko; this wasn’t the first time that similar demands were made. On top of that, Tymoshenko not too long ago had a bout with quinsy in the pre-trial detention centre. She only flashed an ironic smile. After a court recess, she was wearing a jacket over her shoulders. Tymoshenko, it seems, didn’t have any illusions about what the verdict would be. She announced directly into the television camera: “This verdict will change nothing in my life or in my fight! No-one will be able to tarnish my honest name. I am in good health, and I am capable of fighting this regime no matter what verdict it lays down. I am confident that the verdict that Yanukovich is handing down against me will add to the people’s understanding that dictators don’t give up power themselves.”
At the same time, a few thousand Tymoshenko supporters blocked off traffic on Kreshchatyk as the special forces, dressed head to toe in combat gear, looked closely on.
Tymoshenko continued to taunt the president, her chief political opponent: “Unlike an otter-fur cap, you cannot steal Monomakh’s Cap (the crown of the Muscovite Grand Princes and Tsars from Dmitry Donskoi to Peter the Great – translator’s note). Credibility has to be earned.”
The police did not stand by and watch the fervent pro-Tymoshenko protests in downtown Kiev for long: The Berkut special police forces moved in and forcefully cleared the street and broke up the protests.
By about one in the afternoon in Kiev, Judge Kireyev’s sped up his already quite fast gibberish and started talking nineteen to the dozen: “…Taking into account the aforementioned… The defendant has not shown remorse… To be sentenced to seven years in accordance with article 365 of Part 3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine… Detain… Lay financial damages in the amount of… In accordance with the law, the verdict is subject to appeal with the Appellate Court...”
Tymoshenko, while interrupting the judge, stood up: “By stomping all over the constitution and the due process of law, Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 has been brought back to Ukraine. We, nonetheless, will not give in. We will defend Ukraine. Otherwise, Ukraine will cease to exist as a state.”