LONDON, June 23 (Itar-Tass) —— Former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s daughter, Yevgenia, urged British ministers to stop boycotting the Euro-2012 in Ukraine.
“Sport should be sport and, of course, if they come to cheer together with the British fans in the fan zone, in the stadium, and at the same time visit political prisoners or make a statement about this to [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich, it would be even maybe much stronger,” she told Sky News television.
Following Germany and France, London said in early June that British ministers, their deputies and subordinates would not go to the Euro-2012 in Ukraine as they are being seriously concerned about Timoshenko and the selective nature of Ukrainian justice.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshin said in an interview with The Independent that the British position is “pointless and ineffective”.
Voloshin said the boycott had not worked. “The government of Ukraine knows the British position on Timoshenko and a boycott is not going to achieve anything, so we should just allow this to be a festival of football and not confuse it with politics,” he said.
During a game between the Netherlands and Germany in Kharkov on June 13, MEPs Werner Schultz and Rebecca Harms as well as about 50 activists put up posters at the stadium, which read “Free all political prisoners” and “Fair play in football and politics”.
Schultz, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament from the German Green party, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper earlier that the UEFA Championship in Poland and Ukraine is a good time for voicing criticism over how the Ukrainian authorities treat the opposition and for supporting those who are prosecuted and put in jail for political reasons.
On October 20, 2011, the Prosecutor General's Office cancelled the decision to close the criminal case against Timoshenko in which she was charged with embezzlement of more than 25 million hryvnia (more than 10 million U.S. dollars at the exchange rate of 1995-1997, when Timoshenko headed the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine) and tax evasion in the amount of more than 20 million hryvnia.
On October 11, 2011, Kiev's Pechersky District Court sentenced Yulia Timoshenko to seven years in prison.
Timoshenko has also been barred from holding public positions for three years and has to pay a penalty of 189 million U.S. dollars in damages to Naftogaz Ukrainy.
In late December 2011, Timoshenko was transferred from the investigation prison to a correctional facility in the eastern Kharkov region.
Timoshenko is also facing new charges as former head of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine.