KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The European Union has given the Ukrainian parliament a week to pass legislation allowing the release of jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, if Kiev wants to sign a key integration treaty with the 28-country bloc, her allies said Thursday.
Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year term on abuse of office charges, which the West has condemned as politically motivated. President Viktor Yanukovych and his allies in parliament have resisted that pressure to free her.
Olha Lappo, a spokeswoman for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a top Ukrainian opposition leader and ally of Tymoshenko, confirmed reports that the EU envoys — former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox — have told Ukrainian legislators to adopt a law by Wednesday that would allow Tymoshenko to be flown to Germany for medical treatment.
Tymoshenko was convicted of abuse of office while negotiating a gas deal with Russia in 2009. She insists she is innocent and accuses Yanukovych of ordering her imprisonment in order to bar her from challenging him in the 2015 presidential election.
The controversy has been a key obstacle in the signing of an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which would establish a free-trade zone and bolster political and other ties.
Russia has strongly opposed Kiev's plan to sign the deal and has sought to lure Ukraine into a Moscow-led economic union instead, mixing promises of economic benefits with sanctions and threats.