Ukraine’s state prosecutor on Tuesday asked for a seven-year jail sentence to be passed on former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a trial which the West has warned can rebound on the country’s hopes of joining the European mainstream.
Tymoshenko, 50, Ukraine’s most prominent opposition politician, is charged with abuse of office linked with a gas deal with Russia in January 2009 which the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovich says saddled the country with an exorbitant price for gas. She denies this.
The United States and the European Union say the trial is politically motivated and they have urged Yanukovich to find a way of ending the case against her.
And the Yanukovich administration claims it’s not politically motivated:
Ukrainian prosecutors said Wednesday they were seeking a seven-year jail term for Tymoshenko, a $195 million fine and a ban on her holding a position in the public sector for three years after her release.
That would only put Tymoshenko out of the running for the next three Presidential races until about 2022.
Meanwhile in Canada, the Conservative government had some harsh words:
Ottawa "has expressed to the Ukrainian government our serious concern about the apparent bias in the ongoing judicial proceedings against former prime minister Tymoshenko," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday.
"Political persecution is completely unacceptable," he said. "The appearance of political bias in judicial proceedings undermines the rule of law."
Even Liberal leader Bob Rae expressed concern:
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Bob Rae has invited ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister and Batkivschyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently held in custody, to attend the 41st session of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, according to Tymoshenko’s personal Web site:
"As the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, I have the honor to invite Mrs. Yulia Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian prime minister and leader of the democratic opposition, to Ottawa for meetings with Canadian parliamentarians and for the 41st session of the parliament", the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada said in the letter of invitation.
Rae expressed concern over the recent events in Ukraine, particularly, what he called the politically motivated arrests of many opposition activists, including Mrs. Tymoshenko.