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Ukraine: Tymoshenko ally expects the former prime minister's release
Yuri Lutsenko spent more than two years in prison for abuse of powers. Asked how his pardon came about, the former minister in the Tymoshenko government said: "It seems to me that this decision was a forced concession of the Ukrainian leadership which mostly came about because of pressure from the democratic European Union, but also because of pressure coming from the Ukrainian opposition." Lutsenko added: "I expect Yulia Timoshenko will also be freed very soon. I don't believe that the current Ukrainian government can win in face of the international community, Ukrainian society and common sense."
On the prospects for Ukraine moving closer to the European Union, Lutsenko told Deutsche Welle: "We definitely have to sign the association agreement with the EU. This door won't be open for us forever. We simply have to choose that path if we want a normal European life. In my opinion, Ukraine's current court system and law enforcement bodies in their present forms should be dissolved. Then a new system based on European models must be built up."
Lutsenko said he would continue political activity in Ukraine: "I won't found a new party or a new organization. I will not create an opposition to the opposition. It will only be possible to win against the governing Party of the Regions if the opposition agrees on one single candidate. There are good candidates. I even believe that she Yulia Tymoshenko is among the most likely presidential candidates of a united opposition."
The European Court of Justice has announced that it will reach a verdict in Tymoshenko's case on Tuesday, 30 April. The ex-prime minister is currently serving a controversial seven-year prison sentence on charges of abuse of office. The European Union had criticized the verdicts against Tymoshenko and Lutsenko as politically motivated. The Ukrainian human rights representative had requested that Lutsenko be pardoned for health reasons. President Yanukovych signed the decree on April 7. The release of the Tymoshenko ally is regarded as an attempt to improve Ukraine's relations with the European Union, which has made the release of the imprisoned opposition members a precondition for a further rapprochement between Kiev and Brussels.
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