Ukraine leader says release of Tymoshenko still in balance

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 20, 2013 4:38 AM
Ukraine leader says release of Tymoshenko still in balance

YALTA, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Friday he was trying to solve the issue of his imprisoned opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose release European leaders have been pressing for, but that he had reached no decision yet.

Answering a question about Tymoshenko during a panel discussion at an international conference in Crimea, Yanukovich said: "We are trying, and are seeking even today, in what way we can approach this very difficult question relating to Tymoshenko."

But he added: "At the moment, we have not yet said either 'Yes' or 'No' (to her being released)."

The former Soviet republic is hoping to sign landmark agreements on association and free trade with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius in late November.

But the EU says Tymoshenko's trial and her seven-year jail sentence for abuse of office, handed out in 2011, smacks of 'selective justice', and her continued confinement could threaten the signing of the agreements.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing By Richard Balmforth, editing by Elizabeth Piper)