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Ukraine Not Ready to Free Tymoshenko Despite EU Ultimatum

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Despite an ultimatum by the European Union’s executive branch, Ukraine will not consider pardoning jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko until all judicial proceedings against her are completed, the country’s justice minister said Friday.

KIEV, October 25 (RIA Novosti) – Despite an ultimatum by the European Union’s executive branch, Ukraine will not consider pardoning jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko until all judicial proceedings against her are completed, the country’s justice minister said Friday.

Ukraine, inching closer to joining the European Union, is slated to sign an association agreement with the bloc next month. However, the European Commission’s president said Friday that inking the deal would be postponed until Ukraine makes considerable progress in stamping out “selective justice,” including concerning Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and head of the opposition Fatherland party, was in 2011 sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of power over a gas contract with Russia that was determined to be financially unfavorable for Ukraine. She insisted that the charges were politically motivated.

A new case against Tymoshenko on charges of abuse of office at Ukrainian Unified Energy Systems Corporation, which she headed in the 1990s, has been pending in a Kiev court since April 2012. Hearings have been continuously postponed due to Tymoshenko suffering back problems. She has also been accused of organizing the murder of a local politician in 1996.

‘The Decision Is Final’

Ukrainian Justice Minister Olena Lukash told reporters on Friday that the presidential pardons commission did not consider the Tymoshenko issue at a meeting the day before, despite numerous petitions, including from the European Parliament.

She said that the commission had decided in April not to grant a pardon, and that there currently “are no grounds” to change that decision. She added, “The decision is final.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told journalists after the EU summit in Brussels on Friday that the bloc was ready to sign the association agreement with Ukraine, but only after a “suitable solution for the Tymoshenko case.”

Tymoshenko’s daughter Yevhenia earlier this year cited German doctors as saying that her mother could become disabled unless she urgently underwent an operation for her back problems at a Berlin clinic.

Last week Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said he was ready to allow Tymoshenko to undergo medical treatment in a foreign hospital.

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