24th Oct 2016

Ukraine firms up promise on Tymoshenko monitoring

Ukraine has confirmed details of an EU parliament mission to monitor the well-being of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

A parliament source said on Tuesday (21 May) that Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has sent a letter to EU parliament President Martin Schulz "which creates a formal basis for the president to take action."

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The Azarov letter is a reply to Schulz' earlier note, on 16 May, detailing what he expects to happen.

"In support of and in co-operation with the Charite medical team [a group of German doctors already working with Tymoshenko], the European Parliament is ready to propose a group of international doctors to be dispatched to Ukraine to ensure full medical treatment of Ms Tymoshenko," Schulz wrote.

"The European Parliament is also ready to propose an internationally recognised personality, enjoying respect both in the EU and in Ukraine, to observe the approaching appeal process ... with complete access to all documentation and proceedings of the court and assisted by professional staff of the European Parliament."

The letters come after the two men pulled the project out of their hat during a meeting in Brussels last week.

Neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele in a speech in Strasbourg on Tuesday (21 May) said he is "glad" about the arrangement, even though Schulz did not consult with the European Commission or with the EU external action service on the idea.

Tymoshenko's daughter, Eugenia, is to meet Schulz in Strasbourg later on Tuesday to tell him what she thinks about the plan.

Tymoshenko was jailed last year for "abuse of office" and later complained about crippling back pains, with Eugenia in the past claiming that authorities are poisoning her mother.

For his part, Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Protasiewicz - who met Tymoshenko last weekend - told the Strasbourg assembly "it is a sad and sorry sight to see a person who used to be so active and energetic in pain and suffering."

The plenary debate saw mixed opinions: one MEP wore a Ukrainian football jersey while lambasting commission plans to boycott Euro2012 in Ukraine. Another deputy wore a t-shirt with Tymoshenko's face and the legend "Free Yulia."

Meanwhile, Polish MEPs of all stripes warned parliament the EU risks handing Ukraine to Russia if it mishandles relations.

In a sign the Polish point of view is gaining ground in Catherine Ashton's external service, the EU body last week chose Poland's current EU ambassador, Jan Tombinski, to be the next EU envoy in Kiev from July onward.

"The [external action service] chose him because we have to try and save our policies in this region. Without Ukraine, the whole Eastern Partnership is not worth a dime," an EU diplomat told this website, referring to the EU's plan to pull six former Soviet countries closer to the West.

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