YALTA, September 20 (Itar-Tass) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said Friday he did not have any plans at the moment to pardon former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko serving a seven-years-long jail term for the occupational abuses, which she allegedly committed in 2009 while arranging an agreement on natural gas prices with the Russian OAO Gazprom.
As he took the floor at the Yalta European Strategy /YES/ annual conference in progress here, he answered a question from the former Interior Minister, Yuri Lutsenko, if he could “take a pen and decide Ukraine’s destiny once and for all” by releasing Timoshenko from jail, the same way he had already pardoned Lutsenko himself.
“Your /political/ weight class is a little bit different, and so please don’t play God,” Yanukovich said. “Comparisons between your case and Timoshenko’s case are somewhat far-fetched.
He believes discussions of Timoshenko’s release are somewhat premature until all other criminal cases featuring her activity are closed. By signing the agreements with Russia in 2009, Timoshenko inflicted heavy damages on Ukraine, he said.
“We’re purchasing Russian gas at the highest price in Europe now,” Yanukovich said.
This statement sparked off an acute discussion with Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, who was also attending the YES conference.
She objected to his claims that Gazprom’s price for Ukraine was the biggest in Europe. Yanukovich raised the upper hand in that dispute, however, saying the Russian gas sold to Ukraine cost $ 529 per thousand cubic meters without a $ 100 discount granted to this country under the Kharkov agreements.
“Solution of the problem around Yulia Timoshenko’s release remains the biggest stumbling block on the way to signing the Ukraine-EU association agreement,” Poland’s former President Alexander Kwasniewski said in an interview with Itar-Tass Friday.
“Negotiations on it have been underway for several months already and I don’t think I could make any more comments now,” he said, adding that the European parliament mission, of which he is a member of together with Pat Cox, would certainly bring out the fact in its report.
Kwasniewski and Cox, a former President of the European parliament, played the role of observers at court trials over Timoshenko and other Ukrainian political oppositionists sentenced to prison terms. Their mission began June 11, 2012.