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Tymoshenko blasts Ukraine leader from prison

By Alex Felton, CNN
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Sun September 30, 2012
Yulia Tymoshenko was found guilty in October 2011 of
Yulia Tymoshenko was found guilty in October 2011 of "abusing her office" over a 2009 deal with Gazprom.
  • The smuggled cell phone video is the first time Yulia Tymoshenko has been seen since December
  • She accuses President Yanukovich of heading a "mafia" government
  • The former Orange Revolution leader was sent to prison last year for abusing her office
  • The U.S., EU and Vladimir Putin criticized her sentencing in a "show trial"

(CNN) -- Ukraine's imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko accuses the country's president of running a "mafia" government in a video smuggled out of her prison by her lawyer, the lawyer told CNN Sunday.

The video, shot on lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko's cell phone, is the first time Tymoshenko has been seen since December of last year.

It shows a clearly agitated Tymoshenko berating the government as a prison guard tries to put his hand over the lens of the lawyer's cell phone.

"Today, unfortunately, the whole country lives under a criminal authority," Tymoshenko says in the two-minute clip posted on YouTube and her own website.

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"Every person can feel that the law is being trampled, that people are completely destitute. And here I feel all this on my own fate, my own life," she says.

She goes on to attack President Viktor Yanukovych ahead of parliamentary elections due on October 28.

"Everything that is written in the laws regarding human rights means nothing to Yanukovych's mafia. The only things that mean anything to them are enrichment, corruption and everything else that they made for themselves in Ukraine," she charges.

The video was filmed on Friday in a hospital in Kharkiv, Vlasenko said.

"I was in the corridor and just had the chance to take it with my mobile phone," he told CNN. "It is the first video made of her this year. Yanukovych is trying to limit her contact with the outside world. All other inmates in Ukraine are allowed phone calls to their family members, but Yulia Tymoshenko is severely restricted."

The last video of the opposition leader showed her bed-ridden in Kharkiv prison during a hunger strike in December 2011.

The former prime minister was found guilty in October 2011 of criminally "abusing her office" over a 2009 gas deal with Gazprom, in what the United States and European Union have both called a politically motivated show trial.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also criticized the sentence handed down to the former leader of Ukraine's short-lived pro-democracy Orange Revolution.

She is barred by her sentence from running in the parliamentary elections next month.

After the video surfaced on Friday, the Ukrainian Prison Service quickly posted their own video of the country's former leader.

Posted on its official YouTube site, the video shows her beating the inside of a cell with her shoe and her fists. In the video Tymoshenko seems frail and only able to stand with the assistance of a medical supportive chair.

At the United Nations General Assemby in New York last week, President Viktor Yanukovych did not make any mention of Tymoshenko's imprisonment.

The Ukrainian government did not immediately respond Sunday to CNN requests for comment.

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