KIEV, November 8 (Itar-Tass) - A bill that could provide the clue to creating a mechanism to release jailed former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko is being discussed by the leaders of Ukrainian parliamentary fractions, led by speaker Vladimir Rybak, and the European Parliament mission’s representatives Pat Cox and Aleksander Kwa·niewski. The bill in focus, if adopted, would permit medical treatment of convicts abroad.
The ‘Timoshenko issue’ is not on the agenda today, but may be raised if the opposition and the ruling Party of Regions reach a consensus.
Three weeks are to go before the summit in Vilnius, where Ukraine and the EU may sign the association agreement. However, Ukraine is in no hurry to implement the EU conditions and is making its utmost to delay Timoshenko’s release. On Thursday, the Party of Regions initiated a task group on the issue that will consider all relevant bills and draw up a unified document.
Meanwhile, sources say that president Viktor Yanukovich has instructed his fraction to support in the first reading non-fraction deputy Anzhelika Labunskaya’s bill that had been earlier approved by Cox and Kwa·niewski. The bill is to be finalized afterwards.
The Cox-Kwa·niewski mission has set November 13 as a deadline for resolution of all EU integration issues. The mission is to present a report on November 14, while on November 18 the Council of the EU will decide whether Ukraine is ready to acquire associate membership of the EU.
Opposition does not have enough votes in the parliament to resolve the issue and needs the ruling party’s support. However, the latter’s leader in the parliament, Alexander Yefremov, said the mission had never met the parliament’s largest fraction and “they also need to persuade us” to settle any issue.
Party of Regions’ deputy Vadim Kolesnichenko has gone as far as to accuse the European Parliament’s monitoring mission of “outright playing into the hands of Yulia Timoshenko.” He claims that Cox and Kwa·niewski have gone beyond the European Parliament’s mandate that stipulated only monitoring.
“Instead of observation and seeking a compromise, an equitable dialogue with all sides, the mission’s latest actions are strikingly similar to the wishes of Timoshenko’s defence,” Kolesnichenko said, adding the mission was practically by the opposition’s side now, “instead of observing neutrality and impartiality”.
Experts believe Ukraine is purposefully delaying the process in a bid to worm out additional preferences, primarily financial aid. Its budget is now insufficient even to finance salaries. Ukraine is expecting loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the Fund has presented its own conditions. It is ready to extend multi-billion loans on the condition Ukraine raises retail gas prices and ensures a flexible exchange rate of the national currency, the hryvnia.