WASHINGTON–Responding to the selective prosecution of opposition political leaders, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, by the Ukrainian government, Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, today introduced a resolution promoting human rights and democracy in that country. The resolution demands that the Ukrainian government cease selective prosecutions, free Tymoshenko and other officials of the former government currently in prison, and act to ensure a democratic, fair
and transparent election process in the run-up to the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections.
“Under President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has seen an alarming decline in its democratic development,” said Rep. Smith, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. “This resolution outlines measures the Ukrainian government must take, consistent with its OSCE obligations, to reverse the backsliding. Congress has a longstanding record of supporting the Ukrainian people in building an independent, democratic Ukraine based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. Americans are profoundly interested in Ukraine’s independence and future democratic evolution.”
With Ukraine’s impending leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – the country will be Chair-in-Office for 2013 – the resolution urges the Ukrainian government to take immediate measures to reverse the current anti-democratic course and display exemplary conduct, especially in human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. To underscore the seriousness of concerns about Ukraine’s democratic regression, the resolution calls for denying U.S. visas to Ukrainian officials involved in serious human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, such as
electoral fraud, or corruption, including officials involved in the selective prosecution and persecution of political opponents.