The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution [text] calling for Ukraine to release former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website, in Ukrainian; JURIST news archive] from prison. The resolution condemns President Viktor Yanukovych [official website] for his role in Tymoshenko's "politically motivated imprisonment" and calls for her immediate release. The resolution was introduced by US Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) [official websites] and notes that "international calls for Ms. Tymoshenko's release, access to outside visitors, and adequate medical treatment have been ignored even as her health continues to deteriorate." Included in the list of suggested efforts is a call for the Department of State (DOS) [official website] to withdraw the Ambassador to the Ukraine and to impose a visa ban on President Yanukovych. The resolution also requests that North Atlantic Treaty Organization suspends all cooperative agreements with Ukraine. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of office.
Last month the Ukrainian Supreme Court [official website, in Ukrainian] upheld Tymoshenko's abuse of office conviction [JURIST report], reasoning that there would be no basis to rule in favor of the former prime minister and that the prison sentence is appropriate considering the charges against her. During the appeal the government denied allegations that the criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko were a measure initiated by Yanukovych to prevent her from participating in the October elections. The decision came only a day after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] held a hearing [JURIST report] on Tymoshenko's appeal. Last month, Ukrainian prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to hear her appeal [JURIST report]. Prosecutors told the court that Tymoshenko's trial had already established her guilt in the case, and asked the judges maintain her seven-year sentence [JURIST report] in the case. Tymoshenko was not present at the hearing due to health concerns. The hearing has been delayed [JURIST report] in the past due to Tymoshenko's absence. Yanukovych was narrowly elected [JURIST report] over Tymoshenko in 2010.