Ukraine's highest court today upheld the guilty verdict against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail on abuse of office charges. Tymoshenko, an architect of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution that promoted democracy, was sentenced to seven years in prison last October, when she was found guilty of exceeding her powers while negotiating a gas contract with Russia. Her supporters say the trial was initiated by opponent President Viktor Yanukovich to keep her out of October elections.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tymoshenko's counterpart in signing the gas deal, has said there was nothing illegal in her actions. The judge ruled that the court had "found no grounds to uphold (Tymoshenko's) appeal" of the verdict, and that the prison term is "adequate to the gravity of the crime." Lawyers for Tymoshenko are appealing the conviction in the European Court for Human Rights. Tymoshenko's following remains strong in Ukraine, and at least 500 supporters gathered today outside the Kiev courthouse, chanting "Freedom to Yulia!" Several people in the courtroom yelled "Shame!" upon hearing the verdict.