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Criticism of Tymoshenko verdict grows

Criticism of Tymoshenko verdict grows
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. (UPI Photo/Mykola Lazarenko/HO) | License Photo

KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- European leaders, the U.S. president and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin all expressed concern over the prison sentence for a Ukrainian opposition leader.

A Ukrainian court Tuesday sentenced opposition leader and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for abusing her power in securing a deal with Russian gas company Gazprom while she was prime minister in 2009.

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Putin said in a statement that while Tymoshenko was certainly not a political ally, he didn't "quite understand" why she was sentenced to prison. Putin noted that the deal Tymoshenko helped secure was still on the books and was in accordance with both Russian and Ukrainian laws.

The White House, in a statement, called on Kiev to release not only Tymoshenko but any and all political prisoners or former government officials held in detention. The charges against her and the conduct of the trial, the statement continued, raised "serious concerns" about Ukraine's commitment to democracy.

European officials said it might be time to cut off integration talks with Kiev because of the matter.

Economic officials in Kiev were quoted by the National News Agency of Ukraine as saying the Tymoshenko verdict might cause further damage to Ukraine's economic reputation but stressed much of the initial reaction so far was "emotional."

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