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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

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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