President Viktor Yanukovych said Ukraine will soon resolve friction with the European Union over jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko even as prosecutors threaten to imprison her for life for alleged murder.
“We can’t fail to react to the EU’s constant criticism on this question,” Yanukovych said today in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, before a Feb. 25 summit in Brussels with the 27-member bloc. “It’s taking time to ensure the solutions we adopt in the near future are in accordance with our legal and judicial framework.”
The EU will keep plans to bolster ties with the former Soviet republic on hold until the government ends concerns over selective justice with regard to Tymoshenko, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told the same news conference.
Opposition leader Tymoshenko says her 2011 conviction for abuse of office while premier was engineered by Yanukovych to keep her out of last October’s parliamentary elections. The EU has postponed indefinitely the signing of an Association Agreement with Ukraine, calling the case politically motivated.
Ukraine aims to sign that accord at an EU summit in Vilnius in November, according to Yanukovych, who said this month’s meeting in Brussels, an annual event that wasn’t held in 2012, is spurring the country to address criticism of its court and electoral systems. Failure to tackle EU concerns may cause Ukraine to miss its chance of European integration, Grybauskaite said.
While Tymoshenko, a leader of the Orange Revolution that helped overturn Yanukovych’s 2004 presidential win, is already serving a seven-year sentence, prosecutors said Jan. 18 that she may also face charges of helping arrange the 1996 murder of lawmaker and businessman Evhen Scherban. Her lawyer called the accusation “absurd.”
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