Yulia Tymoshenko tweets her way into a jail cell

The trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister and onetime Orange Revolution folk hero Yulia Tymoshenko took a dramatic turn today when she was taken into custody for contempt of court.  Her crime? Tweeting the witness: According to the court decision, the reason for the arrest was "systematic violations by the accused, including impeding the questioning ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
ALEXANDER PROKOPENKO/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER PROKOPENKO/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER PROKOPENKO/AFP/Getty Images

The trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister and onetime Orange Revolution folk hero Yulia Tymoshenko took a dramatic turn today when she was taken into custody for contempt of court.  Her crime? Tweeting the witness:

The trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister and onetime Orange Revolution folk hero Yulia Tymoshenko took a dramatic turn today when she was taken into custody for contempt of court.  Her crime? Tweeting the witness:

According to the court decision, the reason for the arrest was "systematic violations by the accused, including impeding the questioning of witnesses."

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Energy Minister Yuriy Boiko earlier made unexpected appearances as witnesses to back the prosecution’s case at the trial.

She had exasperated the court by repeatedly mocking on Twitter the youthful judge in the trial. But the immediate cause of the arrest appeared to be her description of Azarov as "an old, fully-certified, corrupt man."

"Let’s go now to the motion on execution by shooting," joked Tymoshenko in response to the request by the prosecution for her arrest. "Give her (the prosecutor) the revolver."

If convicted of the charges against her — which involve the improper use of a stamp on a document addressed to the country’s energy minister to indicate her decision had been approved by the entire cabinet — she could be sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison, or at the very least, barred from contesting next year’s parliamentary elections. 

One might be tempted to add her to the list of public figures who have recently found themselves in political hot water for ill-advised twitter activity, but it seems like she knew exactly what she was doing. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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