Ukraine president: Opposition leader to stay in jail

Diplomatic pressures won’t sway him

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich suggested Monday that opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko will remain in jail, despite pressure from Western Europe and elsewhere to release her. Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last week over her approval of a 2009 gas import deal with neighbouring Russia. The court’s decision was widely decried as being politically motivated. Yanukovich is preparing to visit other European leaders at the EU Parliament in Brussels on Thursday. Some analysts thought politicians there would be able to convince Ukraine to soften Tymoshenko’s sentence, since Yanukovich is hoping to strike a free trade deal with the EU. However, Yanukovich emphasized Monday that “Ukraine is an independent country” that will not bow to pressure from foreign powers. Meanwhile, leaders in Brussels have indicated that they may not meet with Yanukovich when he arrives on Thursday. The Ukrainian president said he intends to fly there nonetheless.

New York Times