It was billed as an anti-corruption trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia (Julia) Tymoshenko. In truth it was a circus and a joke. In the end, despite all the feigned concern about Tymoshenko’s alleged theft of gas funds, the truth is that the trial will serve two very political ends:
1- With a 7 year sentence, Ukrainian President Yanukovich is assured that the popular Tymoshenko won’t be running against him for president anytime soon. That was at least half the reason for this disgusting display of a Soviet show trial.
2- Look for Yanukovich to quickly go public with the so-called illegal contract theme in his drive to negotiate a new gas deal. He may actually get his way because of timing issues but Russia’s Putin is a master negotiator and never gives without taking something away. Ukraine will eventually get some relief on gas, but will pay dearly in other ways.
Just in case you wondered, Russia’s Prime Minister Putin isn’t happy with the verdict and while he is no Yulia Tymoshenko fan, still he is offended that the contract approved by a full vote of the Ukrainian Rada (where is their prosecution?!), and signed into law by both presidents of Ukraine and Russia, is now dishonestly being termed as illegal by Yanukovich.
So here is what will happen:
– Russian president Medvedev has already scheduled a meeting with Yanukovich for next Tuesday. (When daddy calls, baby answers the phone.) I’d advice Yanukovich to carry extra vaseline and a soft pillow. His “behind” will be sore for weeks afterward.
– At some point Putin will demand some form of justice for Ms. Tymoshenko. Traveling in China, Mr. Putin expressed anger at the verdict and reminded Ukraine that the contracts were in “full compliance” with both Russian and Ukrainian law. He has a point. Mr. Yanukovich isn’t that bright but neither is he as dumb as most think, so it will be interesting to see how the verdict plays out over the long term.