Court Rejects Candidacy For Jailed Pols

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s largest opposition party on Saturday lost an appeal in which it had sought to allow two of its jailed leaders to run for seats in Parliament at the election in October.

Yuriy Lutsenko and Yulia Tymoshenko in file photo.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko were removed from the election race by the Central Election Commission, which cited their jail sentences.

The move was contested by the Batkivshchyna party, which had appealed to the Court of Appeals, seeking to reverse the decision.

Judge Andriy Korotiukh on Saturday said that the appeal has been rejected.

The latest developments may lead to new deterioration in relations between Ukraine and the European Union, which had earlier clearly spoke in favor of fair and free election allowing opposition leaders to run.

Five countries of the European Union in March warned Ukraine that a comprehensive political and trade deal was deadlocked by Kiev’s apparent crackdown on opposition leaders.

Britain, Sweden, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic also said the relations may further deteriorate in October if the government blocks the opposition leaders from running for seats in Parliament.

William Hague, Carl Bildt, Guido Westerwelle, Radoslaw Sikorski and Karel Schwarzenberg, respectively, in an article to The New York Times in March, offered a strong criticism of the Ukrainian authorities, and said the elections will be the “litmus test.”

“This will be a litmus test for democracy,” five foreign ministers wrote in an article published by The New York Times in March.

“This includes ensuring that the opposition is allowed to participate fully.”

“We wish to underline that ultimately, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that all political parties, including the opposition and its leaders, are able to participate on equal terms,” the five ministers said.

Iryna Lutsenko, Yuriy Lutsenko’s wife who was nominated for a seat in Parliament, said the prosecution was ordered by President Viktor Yanukovych to weaken the opposition.

“Of course, the one who ordered the prosecution is the ‘family’ of President Viktor Yanukovych,” Iryna Lutsenko, the wife of Lutsenko said Friday.

“The ‘family’ in a broader sense of this word. The family, the mafia, all those people that hate Lutsenko.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal