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Originally published Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 3:59 AM

Former Ukraine president slams ex-PM at trial

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday testified against his Orange Revolution partner, ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, in her abuse of office trial - as her supporters inside and outside the courthouse chanted "Shame! Shame!"

Associated Presss

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KIEV, Ukraine —

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday testified against his Orange Revolution partner, ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, in her abuse of office trial - as her supporters inside and outside the courthouse chanted "Shame! Shame!"

The scene underlined the disappointment many feel in Ukraine after hopes for reform raised by the massive 2004 pro-democracy demonstrations and Yushchenko's ascent to the presidency dissolved in factional squabbling and political paralysis.

Yushchenko claimed that Tymoshenko was driven by political gain when signing a natural gas important contract with Russia in 2009. She has been charged with violating legal procedures when the contract was signed. Critics in the West have called the trial a case of selective prosecution.

Yushchenko charged that Tymoshenko betrayed Ukraine's national interests by agreeing to what he believes was an inflated price.

"Only political motives could have played a role here," said Yushchenko, who was greeted by angry chants from Tymoshenko's supporters in the courtroom. "National interests were traded for political considerations."

Yushchenko suggested that Tymoshenko, who was preparing to run in presidential elections the following year, wanted to be seen as a "savior" who ended a bitter pricing dispute with Moscow. The dispute led to Russia halting supplies to Ukraine, which caused shortages for customers across Europe.

Yushchenko also claimed Tymoshenko ignored Ukrainian interests for the sake of special relations with Russian leaders. "Russia had to have a pliant pro-Russian leader," Yushchenko said.

Tymoshenko said she disagreed with Yushchenko's testimony, but declined to dispute him in the courtroom.

"I don't want for the Orange Revolution to go on trial in this court," Tymoshenko said. One supporter then called Yushchenko a "bastard" and was booted out of the courtroom.

Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were the central figures in the Orange Revolution demonstrations that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets of Kiev to protest fraudulent election results that showed Viktor Yanukovych beating Yushchenko.

Although the election was nullified and Yushchenko won a re-run, Yanukovych bested both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko in 2010 elections to become president.

Tymoshenko claims the abuse-of-office case against her was orchestrated by Yanukovych in order to bar her from politics. The European Union and the United States, among others, have also raised concerns about the trial being politically motivated and have objected to Tymoshenko's being jailed during the trial for contempt of court.

Chaos reigned outside the courtroom in downtown Kiev where Tymoshenko's supporters and opponents staged competing rallies.

Tymoshenko's activists chanted "Yushchenko to jail!" while he spoke to reporters after testifying and his black Mercedes was pelted with eggs as he was driving away.

A Tymoshenko supporter, speaking through a loudspeaker called Yushchenko "Judas." Meanwhile, a smaller group of Tymoshenko's opponents changed "Yulia to prison!"

Yushchenko's former energy Bohdan Sokolovsky testified in favor of Tymoshenko later Wednesday. He supported Yushchenko's claim that Tymoshenko's was driven by political gain, but said she did not violate any laws by ordering that the contract be signed.

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