Jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko exhorted European Union leaders on Wednesday to continue cooperation with her country despite her arrest.
In an emotional letter from her jail cell, Tymoshenko urged Brussels to "ignore the actions of Ukraine's criminal authorities" and still proceed with the signing of a landmark association agreement with Kiev, which the EU has warned it could scrap in protest of her imprisonment.
Scrapping the agreement "would be a tragedy that would darken Ukraine's future for decades to come," Tymoshenko wrote in a letter, which was distributed by her office. "I would not see my country's European future damaged for any reason, least of all for my comfort."
The United States and the EU have harshly condemned Tymoshenko's 7-year jail sentence on abuse-of-office charges last month as politically motivated.
Tymoshenko was found guilty of violating legal procedures while negotiating a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009. Tymoshenko denies the accusations and charges that her archenemy President Viktor Yanukovych ordered her imprisonment to bar her from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Tymoshenko has appealed the verdict, but the appeals process may take months.
Bowing to Western pressure, Yanukovych initially indicated that Tymoshenko may be released after parliament passes legal reforms that would turn her crime into a milder economic misdemeanor. But then he suggested that those reforms would require time, meaning that Tymoshenko would not be freed any time soon.
Parliament is slated to discuss the relevant legislation Friday, but Yanukovych's party, which dominates the legislature, has so far spoken out against the bill.