Will Yanukovych listen?


Calls are coming from EU officials and European leaders for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko.  While the removal of Renat Kuzmin, notorious for his active role in the prosecutions of Tymoshenko, Lutsenko and others, has been welcomed, time is short and resolution of the real issue needed.

The removal of Renat Kuzmin from his post as Deputy Prosecutor General on Friday has been widely viewed as a positive sign given Kuzmin’s notorious involvement in the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko.  It came on the same day as a statement from the former Prime Minister and opposition leader in which she expressed willingness to undergo treatment in Germany. 

On Friday EU envoys Pat Cox and Aleksandr Kwaśniewski formally called on Viktor Yanukovych to pardon Yulia Tymoshenko with this request being endorsed by other EU officials.  On Monday during meetings with Yanukovych, Poland’s President Komarowski reiterated the need for a resolution of the situation, and Germany’s President Joahim Gauck is also reported as calling for Ms Tymoshenko’s release.

It remains to be seen whether Yanukovych will pay heed. 

Vadym Omelchenko writes that “It would be wise to stop short of interpreting Kuzmin’s resignation as deputy prosecutor general as a positive sign that Tymoshenko might be freed and that there may be improvements in the rule of law on the eve of the Vilnius Summit. That conclusion should not be fully excluded either, however. The resignation was preceded by another decision to change the structure of the Prosecutor General’s Office. This change deprived Kuzmin of control over the Department for Investigation of Major Cases, which is handling the cases against Tymoshenko and others.

At the same time, over the past week Kuzmin gave several high-profile interviews in which his key message was that he was only carrying out instructions received from above in the cases of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko. This was a veiled comment about the lack of the independence of the prosecutor’s office in Ukraine. Kuzmin also stated that there was a legal possibility to pardon Tymoshenko through a presidential decree.”

Yulia Tymoshenko has been in custody since August 2010.  Despite international condemnation of the prosecution for a political decision over the gas accords with Russia in 2009 and a flawed trial, Judge Rodion Kireyev sentenced her on 11 October 2010 to seven years imprisonment.  She is also facing charges of embezzlement, however the murder case over the killing of Donetsk businessman and MP Eugene Shcherban over 16 years ago seems to have been shelved.  All these criminal cases have been criticized by the democratic community and remain the key hurdle to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. 

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