[JURIST] The Ukrainian Parliament [official website] on Tuesday voted against [agenda text] hearing amendments that would have effectively freed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] by fining her rather than imposing a criminal sentence for the financial crimes she was convicted [JURIST report] of last month. However, 268 members of parliament passed [Interfax report] a presidential law “humanizing” economic crimes [JURIST report], but eliminated provisions favoring Tymoshenko, while 147 voted to include amendments favorable to Tymoshenko. Last week, the State Tax Service of the Ukraine [official website] announced new formal charges [JURIST report] against Tymoshenko for embezzlement and tax evasion. Current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian], Tymoshenko’s political rival, maintains that the charges and convictions are not political [Interfax report], and that were he to intercede in the process to absolve Tymoshenko, it would become politicized. Yanukovych also recognized that Tymoshenko’s jailing has affected the Ukraine’s relationship with the EU. Last month, the European Parliament criticized the handling of Tymoshenko’s case [JURIST report], calling it a violation of human rights.
Tymoshenko’s prosecution has been highly controversial [JURIST comment] and has drawn harsh criticism internationally. The EU has condemned [JURIST report] her conviction as politically motivated and has indicated that it could harm Ukraine’s bid for EU accession. In June, Tymoshenko filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights alleging violations of the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF]. The complaint argued that the charges against Tymoshenko are politically engineered by current Yanukovych. Tymoshenko’s government was dissolved in March 2010 after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Yanukovych. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election. In August, the Kiev Appeals Court refused Tymoshenko’s appeal of her detention for contempt charges [JURIST reports]. Tymoshenko’s government was dissolved in March 2010 after she narrowly lost the presidential election to Yanukovych. Tymoshenko had alleged that widespread voter fraud allowed Yanukovych to win the election.