Court hearings on the second case against former PM Yulia Tymoshenko are to commence on the 19th of this month in Kharkiv. She is to be charged with alleged tax avoidance, and other serious offences during the time she headed United Energy Systems of Ukraine [UESU]. She could also be charged with homicide offences, about which I have posted earlier.
It is almost certain these cases will proceed - Yanukovych intends to demonstrate that she has committed not only politically motivated offences, but also criminal offences. There will be no pulling of punches - she may eventually even receive a life sentence. The politically motivated offences for which she is now serving a seven-year term in prison could be successfully challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, so the latest charges are intended to make ensure she remains 'nailed' for good, whatever the ECHR decides.
Lessons will have been learned from last summer's shambolic trial in the Kyiv Pechersk courthouse. Next month's show-case proceedings will take place in the Kharkiv administrative court - a roomy, imposing historic building with long corridors and high ceilings - lots of room for everyone.
After stalling for many months, all of a sudden, the Ukrainian authorities are most keen to make sure Tymoshenko is fit and well for the trial. She must be seen to be present during the trial at all times, which was not the case at her previous trial, but an accused in a wheelchair will look bad hence the current extreme measures to provide, and to been seen to provide optimum medical provision.
Alternatively, pressure on her might be so great that she may just agree to the proposed medical treatment in Germany, where she could seek, and could probably receive, political asylum. This would be an optimum resolution for Yanukovych and his crew - it would provide some progress in resolving other troubles, e.g. the signing of the stalled EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Whether the German authorities would ever be parties to such a morally dubious charade is questionable.
The problem for the authorities is, having 'cocked up' so badly last summer, a lot of their credibility has been irretrievably lost. A ruling in favour of Tymoshenko by the ECHR will provide a confirmation of this. Because of the structural failings of Ukraine's legal system, these new trials will not probably not be deemed fair either. A trial for the murder of Shecherban could turn out to be a 'can of worms' - revelations and counter allegations will blacken the president, his associates and financial sponsors, and former president Kuchma..
Even when Tymoshenko had been previously held on remand in prison a decade ago, charges could not be made to stick. The case has been raked through by various proscutors, so many investigators on behalf of different political groups. Contradicting testimonies have been altered one way then another so many times, witnesses have disappeared or have been killed, so presentation of a case convincing enough to satisfy sceptical observers will be most difficult.
It is LEvko's belief that there is a zero sum political benefit for Yanukovych and Party of Regions in proceeding with these cases. European observers will not be convinced that their purpose is anything other that to exact revenge - their intention, to destroy Yanukovych's most dangerous rivals.
A further wave of charges against leading oppposition leaders is predicted but will not harm their ratings.
As for Tymoshenko, she will read the lessons of history..that of formerly imprisoned leaders; she knows: 'There is no such thing as bad publicity... except your own obituary'..