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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.





 


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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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