Parliament voted to free ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison by decriminalizing the article in the criminal procedural code under which she was convicted.
A constitutional majority of 310 lawmakers from a cross-section of different parties, including the Communists, voted for the measure. This makes the legislation veto-proof, preventing President Viktor Yanukovych from blocking the move. Yanukovych is widely blamed for ordering the imprisonment of his political rival.
The bill that parliament passed included other articles of the criminal procedural code that were decriminalized.
Batkivshchyna Party lawmaker Oleksandr Turchynov, a close ally of Tymoshenko and her former deputy prime minister, said the articles were not cancelled but “are being brought in line with European legislation” in accordance with recommendations from multiple international institutions.
Tymoshenko has been in prison since August 2011 and was convicted for abuse of office stemming from a gas deal she brokered two years earlier with Russia. Many leaders in the West and even in Russia questioned the veracity of her trial and labeled her conviction a sham.
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(Yulia Tymoshenko. Photo: European Parliament)