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Ukraine Parliament Rejects Tymoshenko Reprieve


Yulia Tymoshenko in prison earlier this month

Yulia Tymoshenko in prison earlier this month

Ukraine's parliament has voted against a proposal to downgrade the abuse-of-power offense under which former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been jailed, a move that could have led to her early release.

Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years last month for abusing her powers when she signed a gas deal with Russia in 2009.

The opposition leader denies any wrongdoing and says the trial is a vendetta by President Viktor Yanukovych, who beat her in a race for the presidency in February 2010.

The trial has also soured Ukraine's relations with the European Union. But parliament, which is dominated by Yanukovych's Party of the Regions, today voted down a proposal to reclassify the abuse-of-power offense as a misdemeanor.

Only 147 deputies out of 438 supported the proposal, which -- if approved -- would have freed her from police detention.

compiled from agency reports

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