Same unconvincing reasons using against Tymoshenko pardon


With the stakes now as high as they will ever be, and the future of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in the balance, Ukraine’s top officials are dredging up old excuses for refusing to consider a pardon.  The excuses become no more valid through repetition.

The presidential pardons committee at its Thursday meeting refused to consider seeking a pardon for imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.  On the same day the Justice Minister Olena Lukash announced that Tymoshenko’s pardon will not be reviewed until the end of the trial against her.   This flies in the face of requests for her pardon from Pat Cox and Aleksander Kwaśniewski from the European Parliament, as well as a large number of other appeals.

Lukash’s argument was first used by Parliamentary Commissioner on Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska back in April.  She had been quoted by President Yanukovych as asking for Yury Lutsenko’s pardon on health grounds.

She claimed, and this was later used as an argument by Yanukovych, that a pardon could not be considered since other trials had not ended.

Yulia Tymoshenko was found guilty in October 2011 of charges relating to the 2009 gas accords with Russia and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.  With respect to that case, all legal avenues have been exhausted, with the cassation appeal rejected in August 2012. 

The other charges have been widely criticized and form part of the grounds for EU concerns over selective justice in Ukraine.  

Since at least the criminal case over the killing of MP and businessman Eugene Shcherban in 1996 has been put on hold, and the trial on charges of embezzlement has not moved forward significantly, any excuses about pending trials show not only contempt for the presumption of innocence, but also bad faith.

Law specialists, such as Mykola Melnyk from the Razumkov Centre, have stated that the issue of pardon, especially given the health concerns in this case, lies in Yanukovych’s hands.  

Halya Coynash

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