But it is too soon to celebrate just yet. For one, the jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko remains behind bars, and many of the concerns voiced in European Union reports have yet to be addressed. Even worse, continued tampering with Ukraine’s political setup suggest Lutsenko’s pardon is more about sowing discord among the opposition, and in Europe, while Yanukovych fights for every possible advantage ahead of the 2015 presidential elections.
In prison for 833 days, Lutsenko has arguably been the starkest symbol of the authorities’ persecution of opposition figures. An opposition strategist and Yulia Tymoshenko’s interior minister, he was essentially imprisoned for not cancelling a national holiday, going against instructions to cut spending, and overpaying his driver. He also lacks Tymoshenko’s murky business past, a major reason for her limited public support.