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Ukraine lawmakers delay acting to let ex-PM to get treatment elsewhere

  |   Nov. 13, 2013 at 8:23 AM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Ukrainian lawmakers Wednesday voted to delay considering whether to allow imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko travel abroad for health treatment.

The delay to consider the measure may jeopardize the Ukraine's free-trade deal with the European Union, which EU officials said could be possible only if a "suitable solution" was found concerning Tymoshenko, RIA Novosti reported.

The Russian news agency said Moscow has been trying to persuade Ukraine to join its Customs Union trade bloc rather than seek closer ties with the European Union.

Tymoshenko, a prominent opposition leader, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power over a gas contract with Russia that was wasn't financially favorable for Ukraine. She maintained the charges were politically motivated.

Court proceedings for another corruption case against Tymoshenko have been postponed repeatedly because she suffers chronic back problems. Foreign medical experts say the former prime minister needs medical treatment available only outside Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych last month said he would allow Tymoshenko to leave the country, but said parliament would first have to approve legislation that would allow prisoners to go abroad if they suffered from conditions that could not be treated inside Ukraine.

Yanukovych's Party of Regions said the failure to pass the legislation was an attempt by opposition parties to make political hay by undercutting efforts to resolve the Tymoshenko issue, RIA Novosti said.

The Ukrainian Parliament's next session is Nov. 19.

The EU Eastern Partnership Summit, where Ukraine hoped to sign the trade agreement, begins Nov. 28 in Lithuania.

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