Yulia Tymoshenko
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko attends a pre-trial hearing at a city court in Kiev June 24, 2011. Reuters

In the Ukraine, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko went on trial for alleged abuse of power while she was in office. The accusations involve a 2009 gas deal with Russia which financially injured Ukraine.

The prosecution is claiming that the price agreed to by Russia and Tymoshenko were too high, costing the country about $440 million. Earlier, she had been charged with the same crime for purchasing 1,000 Opel Kombo vans for the government at 20 percent above the market value.

Tymoshenko called the trial a politically charged farce. She claims that the accusations are an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovich to force her out of national politics.

I declare you a puppet of the presidential office, Tymoshenko told the judge. You don't have the right to consider this case. You are fully integrated into a system of political repression directed by authorities.

My voice will be even louder from prison, because the whole world will hear me, she said.

The United States and the Euorpean Union also spoke out against the charges.

According to reports from the Washington Post, the first day of trial was often chaotic and extremely uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning in the smallcourt room, and Tymoshenko supporters continually interrupted the proceedings with chants and yells.

I cannot give a political assessment of this case, but the conditions of this trial are inhumane, Jose Manuel Pinton Teixeira, the EU's ambassador to Ukraine, told reporters as left the courtroom.

Tymoshenko, who was the nation's first female prime minister, serving from 2007 to 2010, was one of the heroes of Ukraine's Orange Revolution. She is the currently the leader of Ukraine's opposition party.