The EU is increasingly distrustful of Ukraine over the prosecution of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said on Wednesday.
Sikorski, who is in Kiev for talks on Ukraine’s EU aspirations, warned that the Tymoshenko case could jeopardize the finalization of a Ukraine-EU association agreement.
The talks on the agreement have stalled over the imprisonment of Tymoshenko, which Warsaw, Brussels and Washington see as politically motivated charges.
“What complicates our work at the EU in supporting Ukraine’s European aspiration is the growing climate of distrust toward Ukrainian policies. This especially applies to the quality of the judicial process against Yulia Tymosheno,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukrainian parliamentary deputies disrupted a speech by President Viktor Yanukovych, shouting “Free Yulia Tymoshenko”.
Ten deputies belonging to the jailed former prime minister, Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party unfurled a banner with her portrait on it and began chanting for her freedom, as President Yanukovych made his keynote speech at the beginning of the parliamentary term.
They kept up their noisy protest for 30 minutes, forcing Yanukovych to raise his voice to be heard.
Tymoshenko was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 for overreaching her authority in signing a gas deal with Russia in 2009. The deal obliged Ukraine to buy larger amounts of gas than it now needs, and at higher prices than it says is fair. Ukraine has since consistently sought revision of the deal.
Western leaders have denounced the trial as a political witch-hunt against her, a charge Yanukovych denies.