The Ukrainian United Opposition Batkivschyna is calling on the parliament to immediately consider an alternative bill on amnesty, under which former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko would be freed, says Arseniy Yatseniuk, the head of the United Opposition Batkivschyna Council.
Speaking at a press conference in Kirovohrad on Thursday, Yatseniuk pointed out that the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) defined the term ‘political prisoner’ in its October 3 resolution, the Front Zmin (Front for Change) party press service reported.
“Undoubtedly, both Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko fall under the definition of political prisoners,” Yatseniuk said.
Yatseniuk said he had met with Tymoshenko at a Kharkiv-based hospital two days before for the first time over the previous year. “She is certainly holding on. She has strength and she has will. But at the same time neither the incumbent president nor the government have either strength or will. They are doing all they can to continue political persecutions that were started 2.5 years ago,” he said.
Yatseniuk suggested that the government’s version of an amnesty bill confirms his words. “I hoped that the government would understand that a country having political prisoners cannot move toward the EU and that the amnesty bill should put an end to Tymoshenko’s and Lutsenko’s imprisonment. But the government did not do so,” he said.
Yatseniuk pointed out that he had filed an amnesty bill alternative to the government’s with the Verkhovna Rada, which envisions “a clear legal opportunity to stop political persecutions and release Yulia Tymoshenko, Yuriy Lutsenko, and several other thousands of Ukrainian citizens who have suffered from unlawful trials and an imperfect criminal law.”
The bill does not envision that prisoners have to submit any applications for being amnestied or that the president should make a request for granting them amnesty, Yatseniuk said. “This bill would automatically grant amnesty to people eligible for it,” he said.
The United Opposition Batkivschyna demands that the parliament immediately consider an alternative bill on amnesty.
“If President Yanukovych really wants Ukraine to become an EU member and move toward Europe in deed rather than declaratively, such a bill needs to be adopted immediately. This means that both Tymoshenko and Lutsenko will be freed,” he said.