Thursday 25 December 2014

Ukrainian opposition leader Tymoshenko freed, enemy ousted

Published 22/02/2014 | 16:46

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko addresses anti-government protesters gathered in the Independence Square in Kiev February 22, 2014. Tymoshenko urged President Viktor Yanukovich's opponents on Saturday not to abandon their protests in central Kiev even though parliament has voted to oust him.       REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE  - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko addresses anti-government protesters gathered in the Independence Square in Kiev February 22, 2014. Tymoshenko urged President Viktor Yanukovich's opponents on Saturday not to abandon their protests in central Kiev even though parliament has voted to oust him. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko reacts after she was freed in Kharkiv
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko reacts after she was freed in Kharkiv
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is greeted by supporters shortly after being freed from prison in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Tymoshenko said she will run for president in May. (AP Photo/Sergey Kozlov)
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (L) hugs her daughter Yevgenia upon arrival at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko smiles as she receives flowers upon her arrival at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko reacts at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (L) is greeted by a supporter as she sits with her daughter Yevgenia (C) upon her arrival at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko hugs opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (R) upon her arrival at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko talks to the media upon her arrival at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (L) hugs her daughter Yevgenia upon arrival at the airport in Kiev
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (L) hugs her daughter Yevgenia upon arrival at the airport in Kiev February 22, 2014. Tymoshenko was freed on Saturday during the dramatic ouster of her arch enemy Viktor Yanukovich, setting up a possible run for the presidency in May. REUTERS/Maks Levin (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko speaks to the media upon her arrival at the airport in Kiev February 22, 2014. Tymoshenko was freed on Saturday from the hospital where she had been held under prison guard for most of the time since she was convicted in 2011. The former prime minister, a bitter rival of President Viktor Yanukovich, waved to supporters from a car as she was driven out of the hospital in the northeastern city if Kharkiv, a Reuters photographer said. Tymoshenko, 53, was jailed in 2011 for abuse of office over a gas deal with Russia but her supporters and Western leaders say her trial was politically motivated. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prison, a party spokesman said (AP)
Yevgenia Tymoshenko reacts as the Parliament voted to free her mother, Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, during a session in Kiev February 22, 2014. Protesters seized the Kiev office of President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday and his whereabouts were a mystery, as the pro-Russian leader's grip on power rapidly eroded following bloodshed in the Ukrainian capital. REUTERS/Andrii Skakodub (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko addresses the crowd in central Kiev (AP)
A member of Berkut anti-riot unit closes the gate as most of the troops left their barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
A suspected supporter of Ukraine's embattled president Viktor Yanukovych, center, is shielded by anti-government protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Fears that Ukraine could split in two mounted Saturday as regional lawmakers in the pro-Russian east questioned the authority of the national parliament. Protesters took control of Ukraine's capital and parliament sought to oust the president. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)
Members of Berkut anti-riot unit embark in a bus as leave their barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Anti-goverment protesters argue with riot policemen outside the Berkut anti-riot units barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Anti-government protesters are transported in a truck body in the Independence Square in Kiev February 22, 2014. Protesters seized the Kiev office of President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday and the opposition demanded a new election be held by May, as the pro-Russian leader's grip on power rapidly eroded following bloodshed in the capital. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Anti-government protesters hold shields and flags as they guard the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
A poster showing jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is seen in the Independence Square in Kiev February 22, 2014. Protesters seized the Kiev office of President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday and his whereabouts were a mystery, as the pro-Russian leader's grip on power rapidly eroded following bloodshed in the Ukrainian capital. Parliament voted to free his arch-rival, jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Newly elected Ukrainian interior minister Arsen Avakov (R) holds a loud-speaker as he addresses anti-government protesters outside the Ukrainian parliament building in Kiev February 22, 2014. Parliament in Ukraine elected opposition lawmaker Arsen Avakov as interior minister on Saturday until the formation of a new coalition government. Avakov takes over the powerful post after lawmakers on Friday dismissed Vitaly Zakharchenko, an ally of embattled President Viktor Yanukovich, following two days of carnage in the capital, Kiev. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
People cheer as members of Berkut anti-riot unit leave their barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Members of Berkut anti-riot unit leave their barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
Members of Berkut anti-riot unit embark in a bus as leave their barracks in Kiev February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
An effigy of an anti-government protester stands at a barricade near Kiev's Independence square February 22, 2014. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (UKRAINE - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)
Protesters stand guard in front of presidential administrative building in central Kiev, Ukraine (AP)
A boy in Lviv lights a candle in memory of the Ukrainian victims of clashes between police and protesters (AP)

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was freed on Saturday during the dramatic ouster of her arch enemy Viktor Yanukovich, setting up a possible run for the presidency in May.

Sporting her distinctive blonde braid, the 53-year-old former prime minister was driven out of the hospital in the northeastern city of Kharkiv where she had spent much of her confinement since 2011.

She waved to supporters, who chanted "Yulia, Yulia!"

"Our homeland will from today on be able to see the sun and sky as a dictatorship has ended," she told reporters.

Tymoshenko's Fatherland party said she would go to Kiev's Independence Square, scene of nearly three months of protests against Yanukovich after he spurned a deal on closer ties with the European Union in favour of former Soviet master Moscow.

Seventy-seven people were killed in two days of carnage on and around the square this week.

The EU brokered a peace deal on Friday, calling for an election by year-end, but protesters made clear they wanted Yanukovich out immediately.

In a day of high drama, parliament voted to remove Yanukovich from office and set an election for May 25, after the president fled the capital and abandoned his offices and residence to protesters.

Regretting the deaths of anti-Yanukovich protesters in gun battles and clashes with police, Tymoshenko said everything must be done so that "each drop of blood was not spilled in vain."

Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for abuse of office over a gas deal with Russia but her supporters and Western leaders regarded her as a political prisoner.

A fiery orator, Tymoshenko shot to fame during the 2004-5 Orange Revolution that overturned a rigged election won by Yanukovich. She became prime minister, but was forced out after Yanukovich beat her to the presidency in 2010.

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