Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said he’ll allow jailed ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical care as he seeks to clear the path to a delayed European integration accord.
Yanukovych said today in televised comments from Donetsk that he’d sign a bill permitting her departure if lawmakers approved it. Tymoshenko has suffered from back complaints as she serves a seven-year sentence for abuse of office.
Ukraine is seeking to sign a European Union Association Agreement and free-trade pact in November, cementing a westward shift and rejecting membership of a Russian-led customs union. The EU accord has been delayed since 2011 as Tymoshenko, a rival of Yanukovych in the 2004 Orange Revolution, was convicted in a case she and the 28-member EU deem selective justice.
“Yanukovych is looking for a way out and a law like this is one of the possibilities,” Yuriy Yakymenko, head of the political department at the Razumkov Center in the capital, Kiev, said by phone.
Yields on Ukrainian government debt due 2014 fell to 11.247 percent as of 17:30 p.m. in Kiev, the lowest level since Sept. 20, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The hryvnia strengthened to 8.1868 per dollar from 8.1890 yesterday.
While the EU had sought Tymoshenko’s release, she may not need to be freed for Ukraine’s EU deal to proceed, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose country holds the bloc’s rotating presidency through year-end, said last month. A European Parliament commission led by ex-Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, the former head of the legislature, has been working on a solution to he plight.
Yanukovych has said he can’t pardon Tymoshenko because there are outstanding cases against her, including for alleged tax evasion and claims she was involved in organizing a murder.
Tymoshenko has backed an EU proposal that she get medical care in Germany, Serhiy Vlasenko, her lawyer, said Oct. 4. She’ll travel to Germany for treatment by Nov. 19, Reuters reported today, citing her daughter, Yevgenia.
Her spokeswoman, Natalia Lysova, declined to comment immediately on Yanukovych’s remarks, while Vlasenko didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.
Tymoshenko’s abuse-of-office conviction stems from a natural gas contract she signed with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2009, which prosecutors say was damaging to Ukraine. She says the case against her was engineered by Yanukovych to keep her out of politics.
Tymoshenko first became prime minister in 2005 after the Orange Revolution helped overturn Yanukovych’s presidential victory, clearing the way for Viktor Yushchenko. Yanukovych defeated her to become Ukraine’s leader in a 2010 vote.
The planned EU deal has caused friction with Russia, which disrupted the passage of Ukrainian goods across its border in August and has banned imports from its neighbor’s biggest confectionery producer. The agreement is scheduled to be signed in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius in late November.
“I have no doubts we’ll sign the pact in November.” Yanukovych said today. “We’ll have access to a huge market of 28 countries. I’m sure that getting such an opportunity will bring better economic results.”
-- Editors: Andrew Langley, Balazs Penz