Ukraine. The bitter political conflict in the country continued between President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime and the imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the opposition led by her.
Former Interior Minister Yury Lutsenko, Tymoshenko, was sentenced in February to four years in prison and confiscation of assets. The indictment was for abuse of power under Article 365 of the Criminal Code, the same legal provision that Tymoshenko was convicted of. The verdict against Lutsenko received harsh criticism from the EU and was considered political. Lutsenko, who has been incarcerated without trial since 2010, was sentenced in a second trial to two years in prison for unlawful supervision.
In April, the next verdict fell against a Tymoshenko employee. Former Minister of the Environment Heorhij Filipjuk was sentenced to three years in prison also under Article 365, which is a legacy of the Soviet era. Filipjuk, who has been in house arrest for a year, was convicted of oil exploration contracts in the Black Sea, a judgment the lawyers called absurd. Subsequently, former Defense Minister Valerij Ivashchenko was sentenced to five years in prison under the same statute, accused of having approved bankruptcy and the sale of a state shipyard for underpricing to a private company owned by a people elected from the Tymoshenko party. Critics saw the verdict as a political revenge, as many others involved in the affair were not even heard, even less prosecuted.
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The same month another lawsuit was initiated against Yulia Tymoshenko, who is now being prosecuted for tax offenses. Tymoshenko’s health had deteriorated in prison, and she was not in court, but was carrying out a hunger strike for almost three weeks and accused guards of abusing her.
The treatment of Tymoshenko led to increased isolation for Ukraine. The German president refused to make a planned visit to Kiev, and Chancellor Angela Merkel decided not to travel to Ukraine during the June European Football Championship. The EU Commission President also canceled his trip to the European Championships. A long line of presidents and heads of government from Europe boycotted a summit on the Crimean Peninsula in May, which meant that the meeting was canceled.
In early July, President Yanukovych’s Party of Regions voted through a controversial language law, which made Russian official language alongside Ukrainian in regions where at least 10% of the population speaks Russian. The vote in Parliament took place when the President was not present, and he then chose to resign in protest. The language battle was carried out on the streets of the capital, where the police used tear gas against upset protesters. The Russian-speaking people are mainly in eastern Ukraine, the political stronghold of President Yanukovych, who in August signed under the disputed law.
During the summer, an appeal court had heard Julia Tymoshenko’s appeal of her seven-year prison sentence from 2011. In August, the ruling came out that was negative. The EU reacted with deep disappointment, saying that the verdict was to remove President Yanukovych’s political opponents. The EU envoy in Kiev declared in September that the planned association agreement with Ukraine would probably not get rid of.
In September, Tymoshenko suffered another setback and appeared to be threatened by further prosecution. The Ukrainian state was then sentenced to pay a large damages to the Russian Ministry of Defense for a failed energy deal 15 years earlier. The state had guaranteed the deal, but it was a company run by Tymoshenko that settled with the Russian partner.
In the October parliamentary elections, President Yanukovych’s Party of Regions opposed a series of opposition parties, which came together in a common list, the Fatherland. There, Julia Tymoshenko’s party dominated the Fatherland along with former Foreign Minister and Speaker Arsenij Jatsenjuks Front of Changes. The joker in the election was former boxing world champion Vitalij Klytjko, whose anti-corruption party Battle (Udar) had gained popularity in public opinion. The Nationalist Freedom (Svoboda) also seemed to enter Parliament.
From the EU, the Council of Europe and the US came strong demands that the elections must be free and fair, unless Ukraine would be further isolated. But in the election campaign, it was obvious that the ruling party’s candidates benefited both financially and medially. The election was conducted with a new old electoral system, where half of the seats were elected on party lists and half in one-man electoral circles.
The Regions Party went ahead in the elections, receiving over 41% of the vote and 187 of Parliament’s 445 seats. The Fatherland returned and stayed at just over 22% and 103 seats, while Slag received 40 seats, Freedom 37, the Communist Party 32 and other and independent 51 seats. The president’s party was thus able to create a majority together with the communists and independent members.
The opposition accused the ruling party of electoral fraud, and according to election observers from the OSCE, the Council of Europe and NATO, the election was a setback for democracy. They criticized the electoral movement with unjust resources, pressure and biased media, and in addition, the voting count was rejected, where no independent observers were allowed to attend. It was emphasized that opposition leader Julia Tymoshenko and her interior minister were not allowed to take part in the elections but were imprisoned.
Tymoshenko began a new hunger strike in protest against electoral fraud, and outside the electoral commission held protest demonstrations demanding conversion in a number of constituencies. The Election Commission decided that the election should be redone in five one-man electoral circles where severe irregularities had occurred.
Severe winter cold and abundant snowfall at the end of the year took at least 90 people’s lives in Ukraine, and most of the victims were homeless.
According to countryaah, the population of Ukraine in 2012 was 44,921,528, ranking number 31 in the world. The population growth rate was -0.380% yearly, and the population density was 77.5420 people per km2.