This is where the political trials in Kyiv could play a major role. With ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko imprisoned, the signing of the DCFTA will be postponed. It was already going to be difficult to ratify the DCFTA as the majority of the European Parliament (or four political groups) are critical towards democratic regression in Ukraine while 17 out of 27 EU members have heads of state who are from parties who are members of the European Peoples Party.
The Yanukovych administration will not give her a suspended sentence because it wouldnot neutralize Tymoshenko completely as she will campaign around Ukraine as a martyr. She is very good at doing this and excels at being a mobiliser of crowds, as seen in the 2004 Orange Revolution.Imprisonment prevents her from running in the 2012 and 2015 elections which means that the OSCE could not call these elections “democratic.” If elections in Belarus are not “democratic” because opposition leaders are in jail then how can they be “democratic” if Tymoshenko is in jail or not allowed to stand?
Taras Kuzio is a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC