The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has urged Ukraine’s President Victor Yanukovych to consider every possibility of releasing ex-prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and other members of the former government, allowing them to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The initiative was supported during a vote in Strasbourg on 26 January, news agency reported.
Authors of the amendment are co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee for Ukraine, as well as deputies from European countries. The assembly regrets that the prosecution of former members of government in Ukraine affects the country's European integration.
PACE President-elect Jean-Claude Mignon said he is concerned about the case of Tymoshenko, and that he believes that Ukraine should follow the European standards in the field of democracy and the rule of law. He said at a press conference after his election as PACE president that he planned to discuss these issues with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko during the latter's visit to Strasbourg. "After the foreign minister arrives in Strasbourg, I intend to meet with him to … say, in particular, that Ukraine is a great country. I respect Ukraine, but I do not understand how Yulia Tymoshenko was convicted," he said.
Mignon said that he had the opportunity to meet Tymoshenko in Kiev before she was imprisoned.
"Now I'm extremely concerned that a state in which a woman who held the highest position in Ukraine can put her in prison. The president and the PACE, especially the PACE, should remain very worried, of course, without interfering in the activity of the judicial system in Ukraine," he said.
Mignon reiterated that Ukraine is a great and independent country.
"I believe that in order to become more European, this country should meet our standards, in particular, in democracy, the rule of law, and we should not see such courts that are reminiscent of the era of the former Soviet Union, which we have already forgotten," he said.
However, Yanukovich earlier ruled out any prospect of Tymoshenko being freed, saying those responsible for signing a 2009 gas deal with Russia on "enslaving" terms should be punished. Tymoshenko, in a statement from prison where she is serving a seven-year jail sentence, called on all opposition forces to unite to defeat Yanukovich's Regions Party in a parliamentary election next October.
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