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24th Jan 2021

No release of Ukraine former PM, despite EU optimism

  • Tymoshenko remains in hospital care and is attended by female guards (Photo: byut.com.ua)

A European Parliament monitoring mission in Ukraine was unable to secure the release of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko although a top EU official expects her to be freed soon.

Ukraine is required to release Tymoshenko from custody before signing a political association and free trade pact at a Vilnius summit near the end of November.

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Pat Cox, a member of the monitoring mission and a former president of the European Parliament, told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday (15 October) that Ukraine has yet to fulfil the conditions outlined by the EU foreign ministers.

“These conditions, especially in regards to Yulia Tymoshenko, still remain to be fulfilled,” he said.

He added: “After 16 months, and 22 mission visits, we concluded at this point in time that further work is required to ensure compliance.”

Parliament president Martin Schulz said the mission would be extended into November.

The former prime minister was sentenced to a seven-year jail term in 2011 for abuse of office.

Hospitalised and under guard since last April, she requires surgery but has demanded to have her operation in Germany.

She faces separate charges on a contract killing, tax evasion, and embezzlement although all trials and criminal investigations against her have been suspended since June.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has released other rivals, including the former minister of interior, over the summer.

It remains unclear if he will grant her pardon on the charge of “abuse of office”.

But the EU, for its part, is confident of her eventual release.

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said Tymoshenko would be allowed to go to Germany before the Vilnius summit.

“It won’t be next week, but it will be before the Vilnius summit,” he said on Tuesday, reports AFP.

He noted that Ukraine has made progress in a number of pre-requisite reforms on democratic standards and the rule of law.

“Seeing all the progress made on all the benchmarks, it will make only sense if the Ukrainians deliver on this remaining benchmark,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fuele is set to release the annual individual reports on the state of further enlargement of the EU on Wednesday.

The package is to stress how enlargement policy is continuing despite the on-going financial crisis.

“It is going to be about the fact that enlargement continues despite the financial crisis but continues not because it is on autopilot but because it’s a credible policy,” said Fuele.

He pointed out that the European Commission “remains the best friend and supporter of the candidate and aspirant countries.”

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