Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ukraine Delays Tymoshenko Release Law, EU Deal Under Threat

Lawmakers in Ukraine on Wednesday again delayed consideration of measures to enable jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to travel abroad for medical treatment, possibly dashing prospects for a historic trade deal with the European Union. The draft law has undergone sustained debate in the ex-Soviet nation's unruly legislature, and its failure is likely to be blamed on pressure from Russia, which has sought to persuade Kiev to join its own Customs Union trade bloc instead of seeking closer ties with the EU. Tymoshenko, a prominent opposition leader, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power over a gas contract with Russia that was determined to be financially unfavorable for Ukraine. She insists that the charges were politically motivated. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said last month that the EU would only be ready to sign a free-trade agreement with Ukraine at a summuit scheduled for late November only if a "suitable solution" was found for the Tymoshenko issue.

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