Ukraine risks isolation over it decision to send opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to prison for abusing her authority, a former European commissioner said.(UPI Photo/Mykola Lazarenko/HO) | License Photo
BERLIN, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Ukraine risks isolation over it decision to send opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to prison for abusing her authority, a former European commissioner said.
Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister, is serving a seven-year prison sentence following a conviction on charges she abused her authority when helping to broker a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom.
Her supporters say the charges were politically motivated. The pro-Kremlin government in Ukraine, however, said the deal hurt a Ukrainian economy already battered by economic recession.
Gunteher Verheugen, former European Commissioner for Enlargement, was quoted by Tymoshenko's Web site as saying Kiev risks isolation over the Tymoshenko case.
"This trial has become the launch button for the freezing of relations," he said. "The Ukrainian government was aware of this risk."
Ukraine has since tried to move closer to the European Union. The Ukrainian government denies the allegations regarding her sentence, though Ukrainian lawmakers had rejected a bill that would've struck down part of the legal code that sent her to jail.
Tymoshenko's family claims her health is declining while imprisoned in a Ukrainian penal colony.