Ex-Defense Chief in Ukraine

Posted on : 13-04-2012 | By : admin | In : Ex-Defense Chief in Ukraine

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U.S. Condemns Prison Term for Ex-Defense Chief in Ukraine.

The United States Embassy in Ukraine on Friday condemned as politically motivated the imprisonment of a former defense minister allied with Yulia V. Tymoshenko, the former prime minister whose own imprisonment has provoked an international outcry.

The defense minister, Valery Ivashchenko, was found guilty on Thursday of abuse of office for his role in the sale of a government-owned shipbuilding plant in 2009. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Mr. Ivashchenko has denied the charges, accusing the Ukrainian authorities of pursuing a campaign of persecution against the opponents of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

That accusation has been echoed frequently in Western capitals. Officials in the United States and in the European Union have pressed Mr. Yanukovich to free several of his imprisoned opponents, especially Ms. Tymoshenko, 51, who was sentenced to seven years in prison last fall for abuse of office while prime minister.

In a statement on Friday, the embassy called for Mr. Ivashchenko’s release from prison.

“We are deeply disappointed in this latest example of selective justice in Ukraine,” the statement said.

Mr. Yanukovich and his allies have denied accusations that the prosecutions of his opponents have been politically motivated. Rather, they have said the campaign is part of an effort to clean up corruption in the wake of Ms. Tymoshenko’s term as prime minister. The charges against her stem from a gas deal with Russia in 2009, which a court found to have hurt Ukraine’s national interests.

Still, in an apparent effort to blunt Western criticism, the authorities have granted Ms. Tymoshenko permission to receive medical treatment outside of the prison camp about 300 miles east of the capital, Kiev, where she has been imprisoned since December.

On Friday, a team of doctors from Germany arrived to examine Ms. Tymoshenko, who has complained of debilitating back pain.

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