Moscow sees an anti-Russian subtext in the case of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who was sentenced to seven years in prison for signing “gas contracts” with Russia, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“As a matter of fact, Yulia Tymoshenko was prosecuted for the current, still valid, legally binding agreements between Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukraine,” the ministry said, according to RIA Novosti.

It also warned that the verdict must not affect the implementation of bilateral gas agreements.

Russian lawmakers, meanwhile, stressed that the verdict would in no way serve as an argument in Russian-Ukrainian discussions over gas prices.

Tymoshenko received an “unexpectedly tough” sentence, said Russian lawmaker and the head of the Russian Gas Society, Valery Yazev.

“As far as I know, the European Union sees the trial as a settling of political scores, that’s why it would devalue the stance of Ukraine... in its negotiations on European integration,” Yazev said.
Yazev, who is also the State Duma Deputy Speaker, said the verdict “cannot serve as an argument in Russian-Ukrainian discussions on the gas price.”

"In my opinion, the contract is fair and economically founded and must be observed. There is no basis for it to be reviewed,” he said.

Another lawmaker, a member of the State Duma’s CIS affairs committee Konstantin Zatulin, said Ukraine’s image in Europe has suffered a serious blow “due to the fact that an opposition representative has been sent to prison on, in fact, politicized charges, even though they were made to look like criminal ones.”

“I see it as a mistake by Ukrainian authorities, which may be costly in the future,” Zatulin said. “At best, it would seriously hamper Ukraine’s plans in Europe and create ambiguity in relations with Russia.”

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