Jailed Former PM To Boycott Prosecutors

KIEV, Ukraine -- Jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Tuesday said she will boycott prosecutors and physically fight prison staff in an attempt to disrupt the “regime” of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yulia Tymoshenko

The announcement may raise attention to a problem of politically motivated persecution in Ukraine and may potentially further worsen the country’s ties with the U.S. and the European Union.

“I declare a personal campaign of civil disobedience,” Tymoshenko said in letter from jail released by her opposition Batkivshchyna party.

She said the move was to help the people in Ukraine to overcome “fear” they have over the rule of Yanukovych, and potentially to inspire other people to launch their own protests.

The campaign will mostly be aimed at prosecutors that have been trying over the past several months to launch a new investigation into commercial business practices by Tymoshenko in 1995-1996.

“It is wrong and unworthy of patriots” to cooperate with prosecutors and investigators for whom there was “no law, no constitution and no honor,” Tymoshenko said.

The sentencing of Tymoshenko to seven years in prison in October 2011 for pushing through controversial natural gas agreement with Russia in January 2009 has already postponed a key political and free trade agreement between Ukraine and the E.U.

It also led to international isolation of Yanukovych, whose international traveling has been so far mostly limited to Russia, the Middle East and China.

Repeated calls from U.S. and EU leaders to release Tymoshenko and to stop prosecution of other opposition leaders in Ukraine have gone unanswered.

Tymoshenko’s protest campaign comes as opposition groups have increased their clout in Parliament following October 2012 general elections, in what is a major setback for Yanukovych.

Yanukovych is facing a prospect of minority government after his Regions Party has failed to secure majority in Parliament, and will need support from independents and the Communist Party to approve any legislation.

The developments come as the opposition groups, led by Batkivshchyna, are considering a motion to launch a plebiscite to try to change legislation to force the release of Tymoshenko from jail.

Andriy Kozhemiakin, a senior member of the Batkivshchyna party, said the plebiscite is considered because there were few other available options for releasing Tymoshenko.

In the meantime, Tymoshenko said she will boycott prosecutors and physically fight prison staff in hopes that this will cause Yanukovych to “further spoil the remnants of his political complexion” because the staff will have to use “brute physical force” to take her to a court room or out of her prison cell.

“I will resort to physical resistance to such actions with all my strength,” Tymoshenko said.

“This will be my personal struggle against political repression and neo-dictatorship, pseudo judges and pseudo court.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal