Tymoshenko murder accusations overshadow upcoming EU-Ukraine summit
The EU-Ukraine summit scheduled for 25 February may mark a low point in the relations between Brussels and Kyiv, with diplomats warning that it would be “impossible” to move forward without solving the case of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is now accused of commissioning a murder.
It is "impossible to move forward in the EU-Ukraine relations before the problem of selective justice is eliminated,” said The EU Ambassador to Kyiv, Jan Tombiński, who was quoted in the Ukraine press.
The diplomatic term ‘selective justice’ refers to the imprisonment of Tymoshenko and her ally Yiri Lutsenko, a former interior minister.
Lutsenko and Tymoshenko are already serving four- and seven-year sentences respectively for abuse of office, but Tymosjenko was additionally charged last Friday with commissioning the murder of Yevgen Shcherban a powerful lawmaker in 1996.
Tymosenko rejected the charge, calling it “hysteria”.
"The EU-Ukraine Summit due on 25 February is a regular component of the EU's dialogues with other states. It is not aimed specially at discussing issues related to Yulia Tymoshenko and other cases of selective justice. However, the issue will be discussed at the summit, as it is impossible to move forward in the EU-Ukraine relations before the problem of selective justice is eliminated," Tombiński said, as quoted by the Kyiv Post.
EurActiv was the first to report about the intentions of the Ukrainian prosecution to press murder charges against Tymoshenko, back in November 2011.
Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin said the murder of MP Yefhen Shcherban, one of the richest man in Ukraine, and his wife at the Donetsk airport in 1996 by people dressed as police officers was commissioned by Tymoshenko.
The murderers have confessed having received $1 million (€742,394) from a bank account linked to Lazarenko and Tymoshenko, Kuzmin said.
The Kyiv Post today quotes Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka saying that law enforcement agencies of no country would ignore such crimes. "And Ukraine is no exception," he stressed.
Tymoshenko and Lazarenko have categorically denied being involved in the murder.
In the meantime, it was reported that Tymoshenko's state of health has worsened.
The December 2011 EU-Ukraine Summit failed to initial the country's Association Agreement with the Union, largely due to the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko that Brussels sees as politically motivated.
The five-year negotiations over the Association Agreement were concluded, but EU leaders made it clear that the deal would not be signed until improvements are made to the "quality of democracy and rule of law" in Ukraine.