Ukraine’s Parliament Rejects Amendments; Tymoshenko to Remain in Prison

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 8:30 am (UTC-5)
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Ukraine's parliament has rejected proposed amendments that could have downgraded abuse-of-power charges against former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to a misdemeanor, allowing her to be freed from prison.

Last month, the opposition leader was sentenced to seven years in prison for exceeding her power as prime minister when she signed a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Ms. Tymoshenko's opponents say the agreement was overly beneficial to Russia.

The parliament is dominated by members of President Viktor Yanukovych's party, and only 147 out of 438 deputies supported the amendments.

The 50-year-old Tymoshenko has repeatedly denied the charges and described her trial as “a political lynching,” aimed at allowing President Yanukovych to rid himself of a political rival. The United States, the European Union and several rights groups have condemned the charges as politically motivated.

Ms. Tymoshenko's lawyer, Sergei Vlasenko, said his client would appeal the ruling to a local court. If that fails, he says they will take her case before the European Court of Human Rights.