Freed Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Tymoshenko plans presidential run

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister who was sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges she maintains were politically motivated, is now free and declaring her candidacy for president.
By JC Finley  |  Feb. 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was released almost week ago from prison, has announced she will run for president.

Euromaidan and UDAR party leader Vitali Klitschko, who has declared himself a presidential candidate, announced Friday that Tymoshenko, a Bakivschyna (Fatherland) party leader, told him days earlier that she wants to enter the presidential race.

Presidential elections are scheduled for May 25.

Ukraine's parliament passed a bill to free Tymoshenko from prison on February 21. The bill garnered widespread support in parliament, as it followed a peace accord signed by the now deposed President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the opposition Euromaidan demonstrations.

Tymoshenko was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison for abusing her power during a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia. She maintains that the corruption charges were politically motivated.

Her imprisonment garnered worldwide attention, including that of actor and activist George Clooney. Clooney donned a "Free Yulia" tee-shirt for a People magazine photo shoot with his cast from The Monuments Men, and earlier recorded a YouTube message about the political crisis in Ukraine. In it, he said: "You cannot have a democracy when you arrest and harm its peaceful protesters. You certainly cannot have a true democracy if you take political prisoners, like Tymoshenko, simply because you disagree with the way they want to govern."

Despite her imprisonment, Tymonshenko participated in the Euromaidan protests from their November 21 beginning. She penned a letter criticizing Yanukovych's actions for turning away from the EU and continuing a "one-on-one with Russia" that was read to protesters by her daughter and staged hunger strikes to demonstrate her solidarity with the Maidan.

[Interfax Ukraine News Agency]

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