AP Interview: Tymoshenko daughter urges sanctions

AP News
Posted: Dec 27, 2012 10:50 AM
AP Interview: Tymoshenko daughter urges sanctions

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The daughter of jailed former Ukrainian premier Yulia Tymoshenko urged Western nations Thursday to impose sanctions on officials involved in her mother's imprisonment.

Tymoshenko, the country's top opposition leader, is serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges of abuse of office after a trial that was condemned by the West as politically motivated and which strained Ukraine's ties to Europe and the United States. Tymoshenko denies the charges and accuses President Viktor Yanukovych, her longtime foe, of orchestrating the trial to bar her from politics.

With Tymoshenko in jail, Ukraine's fragmented opposition forces were unable to muster a majority in parliament following an election in October, and Yanukovych's allies again control the legislature and the government.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Tymoshenko's daughter Eugenia, 32, said prosecutors and judges involved in her mother's case should face Western sanctions such as travel bans and freezes on bank accounts.

"We understand that we cannot do it by ourselves inside Ukraine and that is why we need great international support, but also (an) understanding of our international friends that Yanukovych will not just voluntarily give up his power," Eugenia Tymoshenko said in her mother's office in central Kiev. "People like judges, like prosecutors ... they have to be put forward for sanctions. Those are the main executors of repression. Of course, there are people behind them who are in the ruling party, but it could be the first step."

The European Union suspended a key cooperation deal with Kiev over the Yulia Tymoshenko case.

Separately, Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin, who is in charge of the ex-premier's prosecution, recently had his long-term U.S. visa revoked. The U.S. Embassy in Kiev would not comment on the move, citing its privacy policy.

But the visa cancellation followed efforts by Kuzmin to question U.S.-based witnesses in a nearly 15-year-old murder case in Ukraine in which Kuzmin claims Yulia Tymoshenko is implicated. She denies all the accusations.

Her daughter also exhorted the international community to investigate and prosecute alleged instances of "international corruption" involving Ukrainian officials in the West. For instance, Yulia Tymoshenko has petitioned American authorities to investigate how Ukraine's Justice Ministry commissioned a top U.S. law firm to analyze her trial for what Ukraine's government says was a mere $12,000.

Tymoshenko's lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko has said that such a report must have cost well over $1.5 million and accused Yanukovych's allies of paying for it illicitly. The report by the New York-based firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom claims that there is not sufficient evidence that Tymoshenko was prosecuted for political reasons, though it finds numerous flaws in her trial.

The law firm has not commented on its fee for the report, which was dated September but not made public until earlier this month.

Yulia Tymoshenko has been in prison for about a year and a half, but Eugenia Tymoshenko expressed hope that Western pressure could eventually free her mother so that she could run against Yanukovych in the 2015 presidential election.

"Yanukovych's main task was to keep my mother in prison for the elections in 2015," Eugenia Tymoshenko said. "It (takes) great responsibility and great power and energy to stop this train that's been going on the reverse side for Ukraine — away from democratic, European values."