Ukraine's Yanokovych: No early release for Tymoshenko
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday rejected calls to allow the early release of his political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko, who was last week sentenced to seven years in prison, dpa reported.
"What signal would that give society? If you want to commit a crime, you should be a member of the opposition?" the Ukrainian leader asked in comments reported by the independent news web site Ukrainska Pravda.
A Kiev court on October 11 found Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and leader of Ukraine's 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution, guilty of abuse of power for ordering the signing of a natural gas import contract with Russia.
Though head of Ukraine's government at the time, she lacked the authority to issue the 2009 order and caused some 187 million dollars in losses to taxpayers, the court ruled.
Tymoshenko has said she is the target of a Yanukovych-led vendetta to remove her from politics. She plans to appeal the sentence.
Yanukovych subordinates both before and after the Tymoshenko trial suggested that parliament should amend the abuse of power law, which could reduce or even annul Tymoshenko's sentence.
Yanukovych, who leads Regions Ukraine, the party which leads the ruling coalition majority in parliament, has rejected the idea in favour of letting Tymoshenko serve out her term in full, the report said.
Ukrainian prosecutors on Thursday announced they were investigating new charges against Tymoshenko, including her alleged embezzlement of 405 million dollars to cover debts owed by a natural gas trading company ran in the 1990s.
Yanukovych has repeatedly stated he supports the rule of law and wants the prosecution of all officials responsible for criminal acts, not just members of the opposition.