Ukraine's presidential pardon commission has unanimously rejected an appeal for a pardon on behalf of Yulia Tymoshenko, it announced on April 27. The detention of the former prime minister remains a major barrier to improved ties between Kyiv and the West.
The appeal, turned down by the commission at a meeting over the weekend, was submitted by female lawmakers, commission chairman Hennadiy Vasyliev said, according to Interfax. Citing the ongoing investigation of additional criminal charges against the main opposition leader to President Viktor Yanukovych, the commission said that the "issue of her pardon is premature."
While Tymoshenko is currently serving a seven year sentence for abuse of office - a charge related to the 2009 gas deal she signed with Russia - she is now under investigation over the 1996 murder of a businessman, as well as tax evasion and embezzlement. The presidential pardon act can only apply to convicts, whereas Tymoshenko is still a defendant in "three criminal cases," Vasyliev explained.
The appeal for the pardon was made by a group of 20 female MPs on April 18. Yanukovych pardoned close Tymoshenko allies - former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko and former environment minister, Heorhiy Filipchuk
- earlier in the month.
The announcement of the commission's decision came just two days after the foreign ministers of several EU countries visiting Ukraine cited the Tymoshenko case as a major obstacle to progress on free trade and political association deals.
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