U.S. backs pro-Tymoshenko legislation

Sept. 26, 2012 at 10:20 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate announced passage of a resolution that calls for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to be released from prison.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted on charges she abused her authority when in 2009, while serving as prime minister, she helped broker a natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom.

A resolution introduced by U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., calling for her release advanced through the U.S. Senate.

"The people of Ukraine demand democracy, and judicial transparency is the first place to start," said Inhofe in a statement. "Our unwavering support is with Ms. Tymoshenko and political prisoners everywhere."

The Senate measure calls for a visa ban against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and urges transparency in upcoming parliamentary elections in October.

Tymoshenko lost a bitter campaign for president to Yanukovych during the 2010 race. Her supporters say the charges against her are politically motivated.

"The Senate sent a firm message to Ukraine that their political persecution tactics of imprisonment and intimidation have no place in democracy," said Inhofe.

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