KIEV, October 15 (Itar-Tass) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has no legal grounds to sign a decree pardoning ex-prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, who has been serving her sentence for abuse of power while signing a gas deal with Russia in 2009, Justice Minister Yelena Lukash said on Tuesday.
“I think there are no grounds to pardon Timoshenko,” she told a news conference, adding that this issue “can be considered only under certain circumstances.”
Lukash recalled that Ukraine’s presidential pardon commission said Timoshenko’s early release was untimely. “At the same time a pardon algorithm envisages approval of such a decision,” she said.
Ukraine hopes to sign an association agreement with the European Union at the summit of Eastern Partnership due in Vilnius in late November. However, the EU set preconditions for inking the deal with Ukraine - reforms in democracy, human rights, justice, the fight against corruption and settlement of Timoshenko’s case.
Yanukovich said Ukraine had been working with the EU to find the ways for resolving the problem. “I hope that in the near future we will finalize how this issue can be tackled,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s opposition reiterates that Timoshenko’s future is in the hands of Yanukovich, who has all grounds for signing a decree to pardon her.