Jailed Politicians Barred From Parliamentary Election Run

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s two jailed opposition leaders on Wednesday lost a final appeal in their attempt to overturn a ban on their running for seats in Parliament, and are now considering an international lawsuit.

Yuriy Lutsenko and Yulia Tymoshenko in file photo.

The ruling by the High Court of Appeals on Wednesday comes four days after the Kiev Court of Appeals has made a similar ruling.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Internal Minister Yuriy Lutsenko have been seeking to reverse earlier decision by the Central Election Commission in order to get back on the list of candidates running for the seats.

“We exhausted all possibilities in Ukrainian courts and will now appeal to international courts,” Ruslan Kniazevych, a representative of the opposition Batkivshchyna group in the Central Election Commission, said.

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

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

Kniazevych said Tymoshenko and Lutsenko will now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, to try to re-instate them on the list of candidates.

Tymoshneko has already appealed to the ECHR challenging a seven-year verdict that had been given to her by a Ukrainian court in October 2011 for abuse of office when she was the prime minister.

ECHR is due to hold public hearing of the Tymoshenko case on Aug. 28 and its outcome will have huge impact on Ukraine’s politics.

“I think the issue of Tymoshyenko’s political future hasn’t been closed yet,” Volodymyr Fesenko, the head of the Penta political consultancy, said.

The European Union has supported Tymoshenko, calling her case an example of selective justice and shelving key agreements on free trade and political association with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian authorities have been seeking to put Tymoshenko on another trial, now for alleged tax evasion and embezzlement in 1990s.

A court has recently decided to delay the hearing until September 11.

The second conviction could keep Tymoshenko behind bars even if the EHCR eventually rules in her favor.

The trial in Kharkiv for tax evasion and embezzlement going back to alleged offences in the 1990s has been put off several times since she has been unable to attend because of back trouble for which she is receiving hospital treatment.

Tymoshenko, who was moved from prison to a state-run clinic in May for treatment for a chronic back problem, has refused to attend all the previous hearings in the new trial.

Source: Ukrainian Journal