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Ukrainian politics trouble U.S. officials

Feb. 26, 2013 at 1:02 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. officials said they have concerns about political shortcomings in Ukraine and the prosecution of former government officials.

Andriy Portnov, a judicial adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, met in Washington with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Thomas Melia to discuss their strategic partnership.

The U.S. State Department said the Ukrainian delegation was lauded for taking steps to address judicial shortcomings but noted there were lingering political concerns.

"The U.S. expressed concern over politically-motivated prosecutions and detention of former government officials, electoral fairness and the shortcomings identified by international observers in the October 2012 parliamentary elections," a State Department readout stated.

Similar concerns were expressed this week by the European Union following a visit to Brussels by Yanukovych.

European monitors said the October election was a step backward in terms of political development. The detention of former political leaders like former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, serving jail time after being convicted on corruption charges, have clouded Ukraine's prospects of moving closer to the European Union.

The European Union said it would sign an association agreement with Kiev in November provided it takes multilateral concerns seriously.

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