The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has voted down a bill on decriminalizing Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – the one under which former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to imprisonment.
A total of 159 out of 434 MPs registered in the session hall on Wednesday supported the bill on amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine to bring the country's criminal legislation in compliance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The ex-premier was sentenced to seven years in prison under Article 365 of the Criminal Code on abuse of office charges for signing gas contracts with Russia in 2009.
A Ukrainian law decriminalizing a number of articles of the Criminal Code concerning economic crimes came into force on Jan. 17, 2012.
The law excluded criminal liability for committing certain unlawful actions, in particular, for the concealment of currency earnings.
At the same time, the parliamentary majority rejected an opposition initiative to decriminalize the article under which Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called on Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych to consider all possible means to release former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other members of the former government and also to enable them to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
PACE made this appeal in the resolution on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine adopted on Jan. 26.
The assembly also called on the Ukrainian authorities "to promptly change these two articles [under which Tymoshenko was convicted], in line with the standards of the Council of Europe" and to drop charges against former government officials.
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