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Ukraine's Yanukovych Says Searching For Way To Release Tymoshenko

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) speaks during the 10th Yalta Annual Meeting in the Ukrainian resort of Yalta on September 20 as Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite listens.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says he is seeking a way to have his political opponent, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, released from prison.

But speaking in the Black Sea resort of Yalta on September 20, Yanukovych said the matter of granting amnesty to Tymoshenko, who is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence, was "not easy."

European leaders have been pressing Yanukovych to free Tymoshenko, who was jailed in 2011 after being convicted of abuse of power when she was prime minister from 2007 to 2010.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said on September 20 that the EU would not sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine if Kyiv did not resolve the Tymoshenko issue.

An Eastern Partnership summit is scheduled in November in Vilnius, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency.

Yanukovych said "we have not said 'yes' or 'no'" to Tymoshenko's early release, saying it was a legal matter for the courts to decide.

Ukraine is hoping to sign key association and free-trade agreements with the European Union in November, but the EU has been calling on Ukraine to first implement reforms and correct incidents of "selective justice."

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS