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Ukraine opposition leader released from jail

Ukraine opposition icon and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [official website; JURIST news archive] was released from prison Saturday when the Supreme Council of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada [official website], voted to decriminalize the charges that had been brought against her. Tymoshenko, an ardent critic of current President Viktor Yanukovich [official website; JURIST news archive], was jailed and sentenced [JURIST report] on corruption charges in 2011 that many believe to have been politically-motivated retribution. Tymoshenko was convicted for violating Article 365 of the Criminal Code [materials], which stipulates jail time for abuse of office [JURIST report], by signing a contract for Russian gas supplies to Ukraine without approval from her government. The amended law releasing [AP report] Tymoshenko was passed on Friday in an emergency session of parliament [Guardian report].

The pending charges and imprisonment of Tymoshenko led to an international outcry for her release. In May 2013 the Ukraine Prosecutor General [official website, in Ukrainian] reopened [JURIST report] a murder case against Tymoshenko. The charges allege [JURIST report] that Tymoshenko and former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko [JURIST news archive] ordered the murder of Yevhen Shcherban and two others in 1996. The European Court of Human Rights [official website] ruled [JURIST report] last year that Ukraine violated the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF] by jailing Tymoshenko for politically-motivated reasons. Earlier that year, the state began investigating [JURIST report] her lawyer for several criminal charges. In 2012 the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] unanimously passed [JURIST report] a resolution calling for Ukraine to release Tymoshenko from prison.

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