KIEV, Ukraine — Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a popular opposition leader who once symbolized Western hopes for a democratic Ukraine, was convicted of abuse of office and sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday in a verdict condemned by the United States and European Union as politically motivated.
The charismatic politician denounced the court even before the judge finished speaking. She compared it to the 1930s purges and show trials of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Tymoshenko's conviction bodes ill for Ukraine's aspirations to shake off Russian influence and integrate more closely into the West.
The court found Tymoshenko, 50, guilty of abuse of office in the signing of a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009, saying she lacked authorization.
The White House condemned the verdict as a "politically motivated prosecution," and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said failure to ensure a fair appeals process for Tymoshenko would have "profound implications" for Ukraine-EU relations.