Ukraine's president pardons jailed Tymoshenko close ally
Iran Press TV
Sun Apr 7, 2013 3:48PM GMT
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has pardoned an ex-interior minister and close ally of his main political opponent, imprisoned former premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
"Yanukovych signed a decree pardoning six convicted people, including Ukraine's former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko and Ukraine's former environment minister Georgy Filipchuk," the Ukrainian president's office said in a statement on Sunday.
Yanukovych made the decision following several requests from the European Union and amid tensions with the country's political opposition.
Both Filipchuk and Lutsenko have been serving prison terms on abuse-of-office charges.
Upon his release, Lutsenko said he would seek a meeting with Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of power, and would remain in politics.
Meanwhile, several thousands of Ukrainians held a protest rally against the government authorities in Kiev, calling for the resignation of the president.
"I will be in the streets, among people," Lutsenko addressed the demonstration dubbed "Rise Up, Ukraine."
"Politics is being done not in the offices, it is being done in the squares. We've already won there and we will win again," he added, referring to the country's 2004 Orange Revolution, when large demonstrations were held to protest rigged elections that handed victory to Yanukovych.
At the protest rally, Ukrainian opposition leaders once again demanded the release of all "political prisoners."
"We will fight for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko because after Yuriy Lutsenko was freed Yulia Tymoshenko should be freed too," said leading opposition figure, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who represents Tymoshenko's party in the parliament.
Tymoshenko has been convicted of overstepping her authority while negotiating a gas deal with Russia in 2009. She says she's innocent and accuses Yanukovych of throwing her in jail to bar her from last October's parliamentary elections.
Yanukovich, who has been president for three years, has rejected calls to free his rival, arguing that she has been sentenced by an independent court.
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