EU tells Ukraine to free jailed ex-PM or risk deal
Ukraine has been warned that failing to release the jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko would scupper a treaty with the EU, which is due to be signed within weeks.
President Victor Yanukovich was advised to free his rival in a deal that would probably see her make a lengthy visit to Germany for surgery on her back for herniated discs.
The treatment of Mrs Tymoshenko (52), who is serving a seven-year sentence for embezzlement and fraud, has long frustrated the EU.
That irritation is mounting as the deadline approaches for Ukraine to sign an "association agreement" with Brussels on November 28. The treaty would create an extensive trade and commercial co-operation between the 28-member bloc and the former Soviet state.
"I want to underline how important this is," said Stefan Fule, the EU commissioner for enlargement. "Progress has been made and there are talks with the Ukrainian authorities on this issue of selective justice," he added, referring to the Tymoshenko case.
Mrs Tymoshenko has been in hospital since last year. She is under constant surveillance. Such is her distrust of the authorities that she refuses any invasive treatment, even injections.
Mr Yanukovich was told in private and public by EU leaders that he risked breaking apart a treaty that would be seen as a boon for both sides.
Given Ukraine's 46 million population and strategic position next to Russia, EU officials regard the treaty as the most significant act of enlargement since the mass entry of Eastern European countries in the early 2000s. For Ukraine, it would mark a major shift westwards away from the orbit of Russia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)