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European Parliament condemns jailing of Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko

Ukrainian authorities should review the conviction of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [JURIST news archive], says a resolution [text] passed Thursday by the European Parliament that called her imprisonment [press release] "a violation of human rights and an abuse of the judiciary designed to silence Ukraine's leading opposition politician." Failing to do so, they say, calls the Ukrainian government's commitment to "democracy and European values" into question and may jeopardize Ukrainian relations with the EU. Tymoshenko, who was the leader of both the 2004 Orange Revolution [CFR backgrounder] and the opposition party [party website, in Ukrainian], was convicted [JURIST report] of abuse of her power earlier this month and sentenced to seven years in prison. The court fined Tymoshenko USD $190 million and forbade her from holding political office for three years. The verdict brought harsh backlash from the international community that saw the process as purely political. Tymoshenko, who accused the court of being a "puppet" of the president, has vowed to appeal the decision.

Relations between the EU and Ukraine appeared to be strengthening [PR Newswire report] as Ukraine was setting itself up for potential EU membership. However, conflict arose earlier this month when Tymoshenko was officially convicted of abusing her power when she signed a gas agreement with Russia that was alleged to have violated Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine [text]. Tymoshenko has filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights [official website] calling the allegations politically engineered and contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) [text, PDF]. Separate charges of abuse of power were combined [JURIST report] in February with other charges of corruption that claim Tymoshenko bribed Supreme Court judges. Earlier this week, prosecutors reopened another case [Reuters report] against Tymoshenko on charges of embezzlement.

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