Tymoshenko's Involvement in Ongoing Legal Cases Rules out an Early Presidential Pardon, Says Human Rights Commissioner

Apr 11, 2013, 03:30 ET from Ukraine Monitor

KYIV, Ukraine, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

The Human Rights Commissioner of Ukraine's Rada (Parliament) says it is premature to consider a pardon for jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko because there are still legal cases involving her that have not been completed and her appeals process is still underway.

Valeria Lutkovska, who on April 5 asked Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to pardon former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, a key Tymoshenko ally, because of ill health and the fact that the minister had already served most of his sentence, on Wednesday downplayed speculation that Tymoshenko might soon be freed. 

Speculation about Tymoshenko has been rife since last weekend, when President Yanukovych acted on the Human Rights Commissioner's recommendation and pardoned Lutsenko and five others, who wereserving sentences for crimes ranging from embezzlement to abuse of office.

However, unlike Lutsenko, whose legal options had been exhausted, Tymoshenko is still facing other legal cases and awaiting a review by the European Court of Human Rights on her 2011 conviction over the abuse of office for illegally signing a controversial $10 billion gas deal with Russia in 2009 without Cabinet approval.  

"The situation with Tymoshenko is a little different than Lutsenko," said the Human Rights Commissioner. "The cases have not yet been completed, so, I think, it's premature to talk about it now."

The other cases Lutkovska was referring to include a judicial inquiry into financial irregularities involving the energy company Tymoshenko led in the 1990s, United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) Corporation, and the 1996 murder of MP Yevhen Scherban who was gunned down outside Donetsk Airport in which she has been named as a suspect by the Prosecutor General.

As both cases are ongoing, Lutkovska explained that this precludes a Presidential pardon at present.

Senior European leaders have warmly welcomed the recent Yanukovych pardons as a sign Ukraine is committed to European integration and the signing of an important Association Agreement with the EU later this year.

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle called Yanukovych's actions the "first but important step aimed at resolving the problem of selective justice" while former European Commission President Romano Prodi also applauded the decision.

SOURCE Ukraine Monitor