KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s parliament voted Friday to change the country’s criminal code in a way that may allow the release from prison of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko, a longtime rival of President Viktor Yanukovych, was found guilty of abuse of power in 2011 and sentenced to seven years in prison. She lost the 2010 presidential election to Yanukovych and was accused of exceeding her powers as prime minister in signing a gas deal with Russia in 2009.
The vote by parliament may mean that Tymoshenko, known as the princess of the 2004 Orange Revolution, will be released soon from the prison in Kharkiv, officials and activists said. Her lawyer, Sergei Vlasenko, told reporters that Tymoshenko still needed a court order to go free, but he implied that it was a formality.
Political scientist Igor Popov said Tymoshenko’s release would be a significant move for the country, considering the recent deadly unrest. Popov, head of the Politika Analytical Center, a Kiev-based think tank, said Tymoshenko could become the most likely candidate for the next presidency.
“She may be the only politician with the guts on the current political stage to deal with numerous paramilitary groups,” he said.
Los Angeles Times