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Ukraine Parliament Again Delays Vote On Key 'Tymoshenko' Legislation

  • RFE/RL

An opposition leader addresses deputies during a session of parliament in Kyiv in early November 13.

An opposition leader addresses deputies during a session of parliament in Kyiv in early November 13.

Ukrainian lawmakers have again delayed considering legislation that would allow imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The European Union has said allowing Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment is a key condition for signing a free-trade agreement with Kyiv later this month.

The morning session was temporarily adjourned after legislators failed to agree on an agenda for the session, which will last through November 22.

"We have agreed that on Thursday [November 21] at a full session we will start with considering Euro-integration laws," parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak said after the adjournment.

Tymoshenko's conviction on abuse-of-office charges is seen in Brussels as "selective justice." Her release is part of a package of judicial and democratic reforms the EU wants Kyiv to implement before signing an Association Agreement at the November 28-29 summit in Vilnius.

EU foreign ministers on November 18 warned that Ukraine's time is running out.

ALSO SEE: EU Issues 'Urgent Appeal' To Ukraine's President

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned it was not clear whether Kyiv wants to fulfill the criteria for signing an agreement.
Ukraine's parliament last week failed to agree on a text that would allow convicts like Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical treatment.
A member of the ruling Party of Regions, Grigory Smityuk, was quoted as saying its lawmakers would not vote for the proposed legislation.

Ahead of the November 19 parliamentary postponement, opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk called on President Viktor Yanukovych to personally intervene to resolve the standoff in parliament.

"The question of European integration is not decided here, not by the members and deputies of the Party of Regions, but personally by Viktor Yanukovych," Yatsenyuk said. "That's why we appeal to Viktor Yanukovych to accept the overall political responsibility and give an order to the Party of Regions not to slow down the process of European integration but to vote immediately for all European bills."
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele arrived in Kyiv to attend the November 19 parliament session. EU special envoys Aleksander Kwasniewksi and Pat Cox -- who were present for an abortive vote last week -- had also been expected to attend.
Fuele was also due to meet with Yanukovych to press for a compromise. The EU has called on Yanukovych to intervene personally to resolve the standoff over Tymoshenko, with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt saying that "everything is in the hands" of Yanukovych.
Yanukovych has been criticized by the opposition for traveling to Moscow earlier this month for secretive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moscow wants Ukraine to join a Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and has been increasing pressure on Kyiv ahead of the Vilnius summit.
In Washington on November 18, the U.S. Senate -- in a nonbinding resolution -- called on Ukraine to release Tymoshenko and on the European Union to make her release an important condition for the signing of an Association Agreement.

Tymoshenko was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison in a case her supporters see as an attempt by Yanukovych to keep her out of politics ahead of a 2015 presidential election.

Yanukovych narrowly defeated Tymoshenko -- a heroine in the 2004-05 Orange Revolution that nipped Yanukovych's initial bid for the presidency -- in a runoff presidential election in 2010.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, Interfax, and