Int’l response to arrest of Ukraine’s former prime minister

MOSCOW, August 6 (Itar-Tass) —— The arrest of Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister and Batkivshchyna party leader Yulia Timoshenko has arisen a patchy response both inside the country and abroad.

On Friday, a Ukrainian court in Kiev sanctioned the custody of Timoshenko. She is accused of the illegal signing of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that Timoshenko abused of office and caused more than 1.5 billion hryvni (about $200 million) damage to Ukraine.

In Ukraine, Timoshenko’s arrest seems to be fraught with another wave of protests and rallies, while European officials urge that all laws be strictly obeyed in the course of trial.

Following Timoshenko’s arrest, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, and Stefan F·le, the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, made a statement.

“The EU and other international partners of Ukraine have repeatedly underlined the need for fair, transparent and independent legal processes to avoid any perception of a policy of selective justice,” they said in the statement. “Today’s events are therefore a cause for concern about the state of the rule of law in Ukraine.”

”We urge Ukraine to uphold the principles and common values that form the core of the Eastern Partnership,” the stressed.

A similar position was voiced by President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek. “I am disturbed by the news about Court’s decision to detain former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. The context and conditions raise concern about the politically motivated nature of this decision, and about the application of the rule of law in Ukraine,” he said in statement circulated on Friday. “I urge Ukraine to uphold the principles and common values that define our relationship and that form the core of the Eastern partnership.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also commented on Timoshenko’s arrest and urged for a “fair and unbiased trial,” that would be in line with Ukraine’s national laws. At the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that all gas agreements of 2009 were signed “in strict compliance” with the laws of the two states and international law and that these contracts “were sanctioned by the presidents of Ukraine and Russia.”

In the mean time, press secretary to the Ukrainian president Darya Chepak said that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich had nothing to do with the arrest of the former Prime Minister. “The president said many times that his administration had nothing to do with the [Timoshenko] trial and had no right to interfere in the activity of the judiciary system by constitution,” she said.

Following the arrest of its leader, the Batkivshchyna party called for mass protests. “We are starting mobilization,” the party’s second in command Alexander Turchinov said.

If the protests turn massive, Ukraine may have new authorities already in September, he said. “We have plenty of sympathizers, but few are prepared to fight. We start our fight today,” he added.

In her message to the nation circulated on Saturday, Timoshenko said she would apply to the European Court. She said she had been ready for an arrest a week ago and accused the president of “sanctioning her arrest.”

Timoshenko’s lawyer, Yuri Sukhov, visited the detention center to bring personal care items and bed linen to Timoshenko. He said she shared the cell with another woman. “To my question how she felt, she answered: ‘they’ll never live that long!’ She also asked to tell her supporters that she would never bow down and would stick to her positions,” Sukhov said.

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