It was inevitable that when PM Mykola Azarov was surprisingly called as a witness for the prosecution on Friday verbal mudslinging would ensue between him and Yulia Tymoshenko, who was conducting her own defence. These two have been calling one another thieves and corruptioneers in public for years.
Why was he called? He was not a member of the Tymoshenko cabinet at the time she allegedly committed the crimes of which she is accused, and he is not an authority on legal aspects of chains of command, government procedure, or areas of responsibility of Ukraine's elected officials.
My hunch is he invited himself into the courtroom for the basest of reasons: in order to humiliate: 'bad-mouth', and gloat over Tymoshenko in her predicament. He even brought his own cameramen to record the event, even though he cannot have been unaware video-recording of trial proceedings had been banned by the judge more than two weeks ago. [Indignant journalists eventually forced Azarov's camera team to leave the courtroom.]
Another of Tymoshenko's most hated foes, Minister for Energy Yuriy Boyko, was lurking in the court corridors, no doubt waiting to 'give her a good kicking' from the witness box too. As this excellent piece from 'Kyiv Post' points out, the role of cash-siphon RosUkrEnergo is at the heart of this trial so it was no coincidence that the day after RUE reared it ugly head again in the courtroom, when Yuriy Yekhanurov gave evidence, Tymoshenko was arrested. She has, of course been striving to rid the country of the parasitic RUE for many years.
The prosecutors have called a total of 38 witnesses. The defence, to date, have only been permitted to call 2, even though they requested 30 present themselves in the court. These were to include members of Tymoshenko's cabinet of ministers, state gas company NaftoHaz Ukrainy and UkrTransHaz officials, as well as representatives from NaftoHaz's auditors, the multinational Ernst and Young.
Tymoshenko's legal councillors throughout the trial have been given risibly little time to prepare their case. There have been days when the case proceeded even though neither defendant nor her council were present.
By western standards the trial has every appearance of a total 'stitch-up' even though everyone knew scrutiny would be intense, hence the deluge of criticism from abroad. Western observers expected court procedures and protocol to be impeccably adhered so that any verdict could be presented as fair and 'above board'. What they got was 'bun-fight'.
The trial recommences tomorrow and still has quite a few days to run. Interest will be even higher than before.
The criticism by Ukraine's prospective European partners has now been so vociferous and wide-ranging that if Tymoshenko continues to be imprisoned a price will eventually have to be paid.