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EU, U.S. Warn Ukraine On Tymoshenko Case

Published: September 19, 2012 (Issue # 1727)


YALTA, Ukraine A top U.S. official said Saturday that Ukraine is failing its test on democracy in the run-up to parliamentary elections, citing the jailing of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and shrinking media freedoms.

The jailing of Tymoshenko, the countrys top opposition leader and heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, has strained Ukraines relations with the West, which has condemned her conviction as politically motivated. The European Union has frozen a key cooperation deal with Kiev.

Thomas Melia, the U.S. assistant deputy secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said the Ukrainian election set for October has been compromised by the jailing of Tymoshenko and another top opposition leader. Melia said Ukraine failed the test today.

I think if the international community, the international observers, were to give a grade today on this election environment and whether it is going to mark a step toward Europe and the West, I think it failed that test today, Melia told an international conference in the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Yalta. I think with the political prosecution, politically directed prosecutions, against certain opposition candidates, that has serious consequences on the quality of the election here.

The conference had been dedicated to Ukraines integration into the EU, but many speakers used it to put the government on the defensive by criticizing its policies.

Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last October on charges of abusing her powers while negotiating a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009. She denies the charges, and accuses President Viktor Yanukovych, her longtime foe, of jailing her to bar her from the vote.

The case from the very beginning was politically motivated, Tymoshenkos top aide, Hrihoriy Nemyria, said at the conference.

Yanukovych, whose fraud-tainted victory in 2004 was annulled under the pressure of massive street protests dubbed the Orange Revolution, has resisted strong Western pressure to release her, saying he has no influence over Ukraines courts.

Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin maintained a tough stance on the Tymoshenko case, suggesting the Ukrainian leaders will not bow to Western pressure.

The issue of freeing Tymoshenko is exclusively in the framework of the law enforcement and judicial system of Ukraine and no statements, political declarations and blackmailing will lead to a positive decision, Kuzmin told the conference.

But Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who was just denied permission to visit Tymoshenko in jail, suggested that keeping her behind bars will effectively prevent Ukraine from joining the Western club, which it strives to do.

If you try to go everywhere you will likely end up nowhere, Bildt said. You cannot pursue a policy of reforming, truly modernizing a country, without being very dedicated to a strategy and a mission.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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