BRUSSELS, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Members of the European Union need to stop lecturing Ukrainian officials about the treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko and consider sanctions, an analyst said.
Tymoshenko, an opposition leader and former prime minister, is serving a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted on charges she abused her authority when helping to broker a natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom in 2009.
Her defense team and Western backers say the charges were politically motivated.
Andrew Wilson, a scholar writing for the European Council on Foreign Relations, notes Europe has a chance to get tough when it meets with Ukrainian officials next week.
He says that, with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's popularity in decline, now is the time to consider financial and travel restrictions for Ukrainian officials he says are waging a campaign of "legal terror" against opposition figures.
"With (Vladimir) Putin in line to return to the Russian presidency in 2012 and a string of potential new democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe needs to send a signal about its commitment to democracy and the rule of law," he writes.
The EU had originally withheld its invitation to Yanukovych in protest of the Tymoshenko detention.
Ukraine is to have parliamentary elections next fall.