Deputies of the BYT-Batkivschyna faction were threatened with the opening of criminal cases against their families and blackmailed into voting for constitutional amendments to extend the powers of the president and the parliament, former Ukrainian Prime Minister and Batkivschyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko has said.
"Over the past two weeks, they first offered money to all faction members, and then started calling them, offering them a place in the list of the Regions Party. When this failed, they started opening criminal cases against their loved ones," she told journalists in Kyiv before her interrogation at the Prosecutor General's Office.
Tymoshenko said that "terror has currently reached its climax."
"On the one hand, some MPs put at stake their freedom and life, and their families, while on the other, they are deciding whether to stay in politics or not," she said.
Tymoshenko said that the lawmakers who "want to take away their voting cards and quit the parliament" had also been threatened.
"Our team and our faction should include only those people who will not yield to repression, bribery or persuasion... The fact that certain MPs succumbed to repression and voted is not a crime - it's a sign of weakness. But there is no place for weak people in our team. Therefore, our political group expelled them from the faction," she said.
Tymoshenko said that she did not condemn those MPs.
"It's necessary to pray for these people, rather than condemn them," she said.
As reported, according to the constitutional amendments that were adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on February 1, the parliamentary elections in Ukraine will be held in October 2012, while the presidential elections will take place in March 2015.
A total of 310 lawmakers out of the 300 required voted for the amendments. On the same day, the BYT-Batkivschyna faction expelled seven MPs who voted for the amendments.
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