U.S. criticizes sentencing of former Ukraine PM

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 11, 2011 2:44 PM
U.S. criticizes sentencing of former Ukraine PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Tuesday it was "deeply disappointed" in the conviction and sentencing of former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of office.

The White House called the prosecution of the case "politically motivated" and said it raised concerns about Ukraine's commitment to democracy.

The charges against Tymoshenko related to a 2009 gas deal with Russia that she brokered. Russia and the European Union have also reacted sharply to the sentencing.

"The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the government of Ukraine's commitment to democracy and rule of law," said the written statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney.

The statement called for the release of Tymoshenko and others, saying "they should have an unrestricted ability to participate fully in political life, including next year's parliamentary elections."

Two prominent U.S. senators also weighed in.

Senator John McCain, a Republican, and Joe Lieberman, an independent, said the verdict showed the government of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich had "reached an alarming new low in the deterioration of democracy and rule of law."

McCain and Lieberman both sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee and McCain is a former presidential candidate.

(Writing by Caren Bohan; additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by John O'Callaghan)