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Ukrainian Parliaments Rejects Bills To Free Tymoshenko

Deputies who support jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko unfurled a banner in support of her during the first session in the new parliament on February 7.
Ukraine's parliament has rejected two bills that would have secured the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was sentenced in October to seven years in prison in a process that rights groups and foreign governments have condemned.

Tymoshenko supporters managed to rally just 155 and 157 members of parliament to vote for the bills to change the law and abolish prison terms for abuse of power. They needed a majority of at least 226.

Tymoshenko was sentenced for signing a series of gas deals with Russia in 2009, when she was prime minister, which the government of President Viktor Yanukovych says were unfavorable for Ukraine.

She says her trial was political persecution by Yanukovych, whose presidential ambitions were initially thwarted by the 2004 Orange Revolution but who defeated Tymoshenko in a 2010 presidential runoff.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorksi, on a visit to Kiyv on February 8, spoke of the European Union's "growing mistrust" of Ukraine because of the Tymoshenko trial.

Compiled from agency reports