Freedom House Concerned by Detention of Yulia Tymoshenko
Washington, May 26, 2011
Yesterday’s detention of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the oppositionist Fatherland party, confirms Freedom House’s concerns regarding increased selective prosecution of political opponents in Ukraine, highlighted in its recent report, “Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine.”
"Ukrainian authorities have gone after Yulia Tymoshenko with one criminal charge after another until they eventually succeed in throwing her in jail and removing her from the political scene, " said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House. "This amounts to a relentless and arbitrary campaign against the leading Ukrainian opposition figure and is an improper way to advance rule of law. Instead, it is rule by law and needs to stop."
On December 15, 2010, the general prosecutor launched criminal charges against Tymoshenko, claiming that as prime minister she had misused funds the country had received within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. A travel ban has been imposed on Tymoshenko for nearly six months, and yesterday, she was questioned by prosecutors for eight hours before being released. She has been interrogated 42 times since the charged were filed in December 2010.
“Such actions from Ukrainian authorities underscore an influx of politically-motivated actions against former officials, including criminal charges levied against former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, ” continued Kramer. “Fighting corruption is critical but this is not a credible way to do so.”
Ukraine is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press.