Saturday, 21 April 2012

Yatseniuk Denied Tymoshenko Jail Meeting

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s opposition groups on Tuesday suffered another setback in their unification efforts ahead of October’s election after the authorities refused to let Arseniy Yatseniuk visit Yulia Tymoshenko in jail to finalize their unification deal. Yatseniuk, Ukraine’s second-most popular opposition figure, is expected to lead the united opposition party for the election, but the deal must be approved by the jailed former prime minister. The unification is seen by many as a crucial step for defeating President Viktor Yanukovych;s Regions Party to begin dismantling his policy that opposition figures claim has led to restricting democracy. The refusal by the authorities to allow the meeting between Yatseniuk and Tymoshenko was “politically motivated” and aimed at “disrupting the process of unification of the opposition groups,” Yatseniuk's Front for Changes party said in a statement Tuesday. The Prosecutor General;s Office denied any politically motivated moves, adding it was not authorized to issue such permission. It is the State Prison Authority that should be asked to arrange the meeting, the prosecutor’s office said. The development is another setback for the opposition groups after they had failed to formally declare unification at a meeting of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party in Kiev on March 31. Instead, the opposition groups planned to reach a formal agreement within the first three weeks of April, and to formally declare the unification no later than the end of April. Tymoshenko, from her jail cell in Kharkiv region, has repeatedly urged the opposition groups to reach the deal as soon as possible to have enough time to run the election campaign. The agreement discussed between Batkivshchyna and the Front for Changes apparently calls for Yatseniuk to lead Tymoshenko’s party for the election, people familiar with the discussions said. Yatseniuk and his allies are supposed to control 45% of seats in Batkivshchyna, with the remaining 55% to be controlled by Tymoshenko’s allies. The two parties, jointly with smaller opposition groups, are also supposed to agree on 225 candidates that will run against pro-government candidates in majority districts across Ukraine. Half of Ukrainian 450-seat Parliament will be elected on party lists and half in individual constituencies. The bone of contention in the discussion between Yatseniuk and the Batkivshchyna party is who will run against incumbent Yanukovych at the presidential election in March 2015. Batkivshchyna sees Tymoshenko as the candidate, while Yatseniuk has insisted that the candidate must be selected based on opinion polls before the election to make sure the candidate beats Yanukovych. Yatseniuk on April 7 requested the Prosecutor General’s Office give permission to visit Tymoshenko on April 17 in the Kachanivska jail in the Kharkiv region. The request was declined on Tuesday.

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