Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Full Senate Okays Tymoshenko Resolution
WASHINGTON, DC -- Sending shockwaves through the Ukrainian government, the U.S. Senate on Saturday approved resolution demanding the release of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and calling for visa restrictions against those responsible for her imprisonment. The unanimous approval of the resolution comes only days after its approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, showing strong bilateral support for the measure in the Congress. The quick approval comes as a surprise for the Ukrainian government, which has apparently expected the issue to linger for months and definitely until after October 28 parliamentary elections in Ukraine. The development comes as major setback for President Viktor Yanukovych, who is expected within days to travel to the U.S. to join the United Nations General Assembly. The Yanukovych administration has been hastily cancelling interviews with U.S. media outlets that had been earlier scheduled in New York, including with Bloomberg News, citing a “change of plans.” The development also puts major pressure on Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryshchenko and may lead to his dismissal by Yanukovych for his apparent failure to anticipate and prevent the worst-case scenario. “The resolution on Yulia Tymoshenko was approved in the Senate UNANIMOUSLY!!!!” Serhiy Vlasenko, Tymoshenko’s lawyer, wrote on his blog on Saturday. “What will Hryshchenko say now?! They hoped this would continue for years!!!” The resolution condemns the “selective and politically motivated” prosecution and imprisonment of Tymoshenko. It also expresses “deep concern” the continued detention of Tymoshenko “threatens to jeopardize ties” between the United States and Ukraine. The resolution calls for the government of Ukraine to release Tymoshenko, to provide her with timely access to medical care, and to conduct the October parliamentary elections in a fair and transparent manner consistent with OSCE standards. The resolution also calls on the Department of State to institute a visa ban against those responsible for the imprisonment and mistreatment of Tymoshenko and the more than dozen political leaders. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement questioning the legality of the vote by the U.S. Senate, calling the procedure of its approval “doubtful.” “It is hard to take seriously a document that has been approved last night at procedure that with all diplomatic etiquette restraint can be called doubtful, at least,” Interfax reported citing an official at the Foreign Ministry. “The friends of Tymoshenko made everything for throwing into a Ukrainian information space a falsified reason for loud and ungrounded discussions and to discredit the future parliamentary elections,” the official said. “These efforts contradict the national interests of Ukraine and are doomed to fail.” “What were the motives of authors of the resolution that have been trying at any cost to navigate through protests of other senators over the resolution?” the official said. “With this goal they have been hastily making amendments and have suggested the Senate to approve it as a new document after 3:00 AM, only several minutes before the Congress was set to close the current session and when there were less than half a dozen of members of the upper house of American Parliament.” But the Foreign Ministry’s response was harshly criticized by opposition and by analysts in Ukraine. “I don’t know what Minister Hryshchenko and his diplomats have been smoking to issue such a rude statement on behalf of the state of Ukraine,” Hrytsenko wrote on his blog. “The resolution of the Senate is not a direct action document. It only has a recommendation character. But even that has scared Yanukovychs, Azarovs and Hryshchenkos so much that it has paralyzed their ability to think.” Serhiy Leshchenko, a journalist at Ukrayinsla Pravda, said. “Despair is how one can describe the state of mind of Foreign Minister Hryshchenko.” “The reputation of Ukraine in the world has reached the bottom,” Leshchenko said, adding that any rude statement or other tough talking may create even more problems for government officials and their allies. “These people seem to have forgotten in what currencies they keep their assets and which resorts overseas they travel to for vacation and to what countries they send they kids to school,” he said.