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11/07/2013

EU gives Ukraine one week to release ex-Prime Minister

Yulia

A demonstrator holds a picture of Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev, Ukraine, demanding her release from jail. (Sergei Chuzavkov/Associated Press)

The European Union has laid down the law with Ukraine.

If the former Eastern bloc nation wants to undertake further integration negotiations with the 28-member EU, Ukraine must pass legislation - by next week - to let Yulia Tymoshenko out of jail so she can seek medical treatment for her back. 

Tymoshenko is in jail for a seven year term, charged with abuse of office, but both she and her supporters have alleged the detention was politically motivated.

The Associated Press is reporting former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President Pat Cox have both told Ukraine they must adopt a law freeing her by Wednesday.

Ukraine, a country of 46 million, has suffered democratic growing pains since becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.

President Viktor Yanukovych has previously refused to free Tymoshenko, a political rival who co-founded the Orange freedom movement. Yanukovych was first elected Ukrainian president in 2004 but he was forced to give up power after the courts ruled his election as fraudulent.

During this time, Tymoshenko's Orange movement was increasingly popular. She became the first female prime minister of Ukraine in 2005 and in 2010, she ran for president but lost to Yanukovych.

She was jailed in 2011.

Meanwhile, free trade talks between Canada and Ukraine have stalled after three years and five rounds of negotiatons. The Canadian government blamed the impasse on tariff reductions Ukraine is trying to make at the World Trade Organization.

Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga

Comments

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This is wonderful news. Oh how I wish it was likely that this effort will have results.

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