Ukraine’s parliament has delayed debating letting jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko leave the country for treatment. Her release is a key condition of a planned trade agreement with the European Union.
The parliamentary debate on laws that would allow Tymoshenko to travel abroad for medical treatment was due to take place in Kyiv on Tuesday, but has been put off for another two days.
"We have agreed that on Thursday at a full session we will start with considering Euro-integration laws," the speaker of parliament, Volodymyr Rybak, said.
Germany has repeatedly offered to receive Tymoshenko so she can be given medical treatment for back problems. The former prime minister of Ukraine was jailed in 2011 for abuse of power and is serving a seven year sentence in a process which has been criticized as politically motivated by Amnesty International and several European politicians.
The EU has signaled it does not want to sign agreements for free trade and political association with Ukraine if Tymoshenko remains imprisoned.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a Bundestag session on Monday “I have to say that it is not certain whether Ukraine is willing to fill the criteria for a possible association agreement.”
The agreements are scheduled to be signed in Lithuania on November 28-29 and would be a first step for Ukraine to become an EU member.
West or East
Meanwhile, on Tuesday Russia's foreign minister has accused the EU of placing “unforgiveable pressure” on Ukraine to sign the free trade pact.
An agreement between Ukraine and the EU would mark a shift away from Russia and towards western Europe for the former Soviet republic.
Russia wants Ukraine to instead join its own free trade zone, which it has set up with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The EU has warned Russia against applying pressure on Ukraine.
se/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)