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KIEV, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - Ukrainian communist party leader Pyotr Simonenko said the European Union’s demand for adopting a special law allowing former Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko to undergo medical treatment abroad was an act of unprecedented pressure on Ukraine.
“This goes beyond all possible compromises,” he said in the parliament on Monday, November 4.
Ukraine’s Higher Specialised Court has rejected the appeal for a revision of the verdict to Timoshenko, which proclaimed her guilty of acting in excess of her powers when signing gas contracts with Russia. She was sentenced to a seven-year prison term.
Parliament Speaker Vladimir Rybak said that the national legislature would debate draft laws allowing prisoners to be taken abroad for medical treatment on November 7. “Three draft laws will be offered to MPs for discussion,” he said.
The draft laws concern mainly Timoshenko. The European Union said the association agreement with Ukraine would not be signed at the European Partnership summit in Vilnius on November 28-29 unless the Timoshenko issue was solved.
Timoshenko’s colleague in the party and head of its faction in the national parliament, Arseny Yatsenyuk, said earlier that one of the demands put forth by the European Union to Ukraine was an end to political prosecutions. “This is the first point made by the European Union, that is, the release of Timoshenko. Like it or not, this decision has to be made. Allowing her to undergo medical treatment abroad will be the first step towards stopping political prosecutions,” he said, adding that “there is too little time left” for this issue to be solved.
“Our future European integration depends on this. In other words, we expect a responsible political decision by the end of September as to whether Ukraine will sign the [association] agreement with the European Union or not,” Yatsenyuk said.
At the same time, Valeria Lutkovskaya, the parliament’s human rights commissioner, believes that Timoshenko may be allowed to go to Germany for medical treatment only after the parliaments of the two countries have ratified the relevant interstate agreement.
Timoshenko is now undergoing medical treatment at a hospital in Kharkov. She fell ill on August 18, 2011, two weeks after her arrest. Her defence lawyer Serei Vlasenko said “Yulia Timoshenko’s health has deteriorated and the reasons are unknown.” But Timoshenko mistrusts Ukrainian medics and rejected their help. She insists that she be examined and treated by independent medics.
Timoshenko’s supporters demand that the Ukrainian authorities let her go to Germany for medical treatment. However this is prohibited by Ukrainian legislation. The opposition links Timoshenko’s release with the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. Some have even urged the EU to boycott the signing of the agreement at the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius this November.
Timoshenko was arrested on August 5, 2011 in the so-called “gas case” for “systematically obstructing the establishment of truth, breaking order during the court hearings, ignoring the judge’s instructions, delaying the process and showing disrespect for the court.”
On April 30, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights said the verdict against Timoshenko was politically motivated and her rights had been violated.
On August 1, 2013, Timoshenko’s lawyers filed an appeal to the Supreme Court through the Higher Specialised Court, requesting that the verdict in the so-called “gas case” be reviewed and annulled.
However the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice insists that the ECHR judgment in the Timoshenko vs. Ukraine case has been complied with in full and entails no additional obligations for Ukraine.
Vlasenko is adamant, however, that Ukraine had to release Timoshenko from prison in order to comply with the ECHR ruling in full.
On October 11, 2011, Timoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for having acted in excess of her powers which had resulted in damage to national interests.
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.