Feb. 22 - Freed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko addresses supporters after her release, saying the main task now is to ensure that protesters did not die in vain. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Opposition leader and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko addressed her supporters on Saturday after her release from a hospital where she had been jailed. Ukraine's parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovich, who abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup after a week of fighting in the streets of the capital. Parliament also freed Tymoshenko, historically his arch-nemesis, whose freedom represented completed a radical transformation in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. "Best sons of our country, those who stood up and went to face bullets - they gave all so we all with you together, everyone of us, could be happy," said Tymoshenko after her release, sitting in a wheelchair. "And now we have only one task - to ensure that any single drop of their blood has not been spilled in vain, that any single drop of their blood will not be forgotten, and that every person in our country gets the life which they sacrificed their lives for, which we all fought for, which everybody who has honor and dignity fought for. I believe in Ukraine," she added. The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian leader, after bloodshed in Kiev that saw 77 people killed and the center of the capital transformed into an inferno, looks likely to pull Ukraine away from Moscow's orbit and closer to Europe. The release of Tymoshenko transforms Ukraine by giving the opposition a single leader and potential future president, although Klitschko and others also have claims. The 53-year-old, known for her distinctive blonde braid, was jailed by a court under Yanukovich over a natural gas deal with Russia she arranged while serving as premier before he took office. The EU had long considered her a political prisoner, and her freedom was one of the main demands it had for closer ties with Ukraine during years of negotiations that ended when Yanukovich abruptly turned towards Moscow in November.