Durbin Calls for the Release of Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

[Washington, D.C.] Assistant Senate Majority Leader and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dick Durbin (D-IL), called for the release of Ukraine’s former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, in light of the European Court of Human Rights recent decision on her case. In 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly abusing her power in the awarding of a natural gas contract. Numerous political and human rights groups have called the charges politically motivated and selectively prosecuted and called for Tymoshenko’s release. Durbin introduced a Senate Resolution on Ms. Tymoshenko’s case last week.

“Ukraine is a promising and hopeful new member of the community of free market democracies – one with a solid future in the West,” Durbin said in an address on the floor of the U.S. Senate. “That is why Ms. Tymoshenko’s almost two years of imprisonment are so troubling.  When you are a member of the community of democracies, you don’t selectively throw your political opponents in jail for questionable policy decisions.  This resolution is simple: it calls on Ukraine to respect the recent European Court of Human Rights decision on Ms. Tymoshenko’s case and promptly release her from prison. Doing so will help Ukraine further solidify its membership in the community of democracies.”

Since her trial and in imprisonment in 2011, numerous human rights groups and government around the world, as well as the European Court of Human Rights, have called the charges politically motivated and called for Ms. Tymoshenko’s release.

The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe passed a resolution in January 2012, declaring that the articles under which Ms. Tymoshenko was convicted were, “overly broad in application and effectively allow for ex post facto criminalization of normal political decision making.”

Later that year, both the European Parliament and the U.S. Senate passed resolutions condemning the sentencing of Ms. Tymoshenko and calling for her release.

In late April, The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ms. Tymoshenko’s pre-trial detention was unlawful, that the lawfulness of her detention had not been properly reviewed, that her right to liberty had been restricted, and that she had no possibility to seek compensation for her unlawful deprivation of liberty.

Video of today’s floor remarks can be viewed here. A copy of the resolution – cosponsored by Senators Rubio (R-FL), Boxer (D-CA), Barrasso (R-ID), and Murphy (D-CT) – is attached.