April 7, 2013

Ukraine president pardons Yulia Tymoshenko allies

Ukraine president pardons Yulia Tymoshenko allies | World news | guardian.co.uk

Ukraine president pardons Lutsenko

Ex-ministers and associates of jailed former prime minister released from prison, part-fulfilling key demand by EuropeAssociated Press in Kiev 

Ukraine's president has pardoned two former government ministers, both allies of imprisoned former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, moving towards fulfilling a key demand on Kiev's path to integrate closer with the EU.
President Viktor Yanukovych signed a decree to pardon former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko, 48, who is serving a four-year sentence on charges of abuse of office and embezzlement. Lutsenko's health has deteriorated since his arrest in early 2010, according to his supporters and doctors.
The move followed a recommendation from the presidential commission. Yanukovych also pardoned another Tymoshenko ally, the former environment minister Heorhiy Filipchuk, who was imprisoned for abuse of office.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2011 of abuse office.
Western commentators have branded the cases politically motivated. The EU has warned that it will not sign a key co-operation agreement with Kiev until those two cases are resolved. Yanukovych also needs western support to secure a $15bn (£9.8bn) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The EU's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, said on his Twitter feed that the pardons for Lutsenko and Filipchuk were a "first but important step".
The state prison service said that Lutsenko had been released. Lutsenko's brother Sergei said he was on the way to pick him up from prison.
Lutsenko's lawyer, Valentyna Telychenko, hailed the decision. "It's a very important signal that Ukraine still wants to fulfil Europe's demands aimed at correcting problems in the sphere of justice and elections," Telychenko was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Telychenko said that Tymoshenko should also be freed, since she has been convicted of a non-violent crime and is also suffering from health problems.
However, Yanukovych says he cannot unilaterally pardon Tymoshenko until her legal options are exhausted. She is appealing against her conviction at the European court for human rights. Yanukovych also says he does not want to interfere with other cases pending against Tymoshenko. She is under investigation for murder over the 1996 killing of a businessman and faces inquiries in other corruption cases.

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