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Europe worried by Ukrainian allegiance

Nov. 22, 2013 at 9:26 AM   |   Comments

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STRASBOURG, France, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said Friday they were concerned with Ukraine's pivot away from the European Union.

"We are deeply worried that Ukraine is turning away from Europe," PACE rapporteurs to Ukraine Mailis Reps and Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin said in a joint statement.

Ukrainian lawmakers voted Thursday to suspend efforts to sign an association agreement with the European Union during a summit next week in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, also rejected a bill that would have allowed jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment abroad.

Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2011 on corruption charges stemming from a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom. A key opposition leader, Tymoshenko and her supporters said the charges were politically motivated.

The rapporteurs said rejection of the Tymoshenko bill shows Ukrainian leaders lack the political will to resolve deficiencies in their legal processes.

Russia's state-supported news agency RIA Novosti reports Ukrainians turned out to protest the move Friday.

Ukraine is a former Soviet republic and Russian President Vladimir Putin said he'd consider a trilateral economic relationship with the EU and Ukraine provided Kiev abandons its European ambitions.

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