Ukrainian criminal code reform may clear path for ex-PM Tymoshenko’s release
KIEV, February 21 (RAPSI) – The Ukrainian parliament adopted sweeping amendments to the Criminal Code which may clear the way for the release of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
“The acts that resulted in the unlawful sentencing of Yulia [Tymoshenko] are no longer classified as criminal offenses,” her attorney Sergey Vlasenko is quoted by the agency as having said. As soon as these amendments are enacted Tymoshenko should be released, according to the lawyer.
The new legislation would amend the Ukrainian Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
Tymoshenko is currently serving a seven-year sentence in a penal colony in the city of Kharkov for abuse of power based on a gas deal she signed with Russia in 2009. Since May 2012, she has been undergoing treatment in a local hospital. Tymoshenko was also charged with financial fraud, which is alleged to have taken place when she was head of United Energy Systems of Ukraine in the 1990s. The case was postponed for over a year, due to her poor health. Besides, she also faced accusations in a high-profile murder case.
The parliamentary session was held against the backdrop of mass protests that initially got underway in Ukraine in November. Unrest in Kiev erupted this week anew as thousands of people marched on the parliament building, where a standoff was taking place over proposed constitutional reforms that the opposition said could provide a way out of the political crisis that is paralyzing the country. The violence that ensued resulted in numerous deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Fighting between radical anti-government protesters and police has claimed at least 80 lives over three days, according to the Interior Ministry.
Earlier on Friday, Ukrainian Presdient Viktor Yanukovich announced that presidential elections would be held early and called for the creation of a national trust government in the Ukraine.