Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has pardoned former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and former Environment Minister Heorhiy Filipchuk. Mr. Lutsenko was serving a four-year sentence on politically motivated charges of abuse of office and embezzlement. His health has deteriorated since his arrest in early 2010. Mr. Filipchuk was also imprisoned on the questionable charge of abuse of office.
The United States is encouraged by President Yanukovych’s decision to pardon these two opposition figures. “This is an important step toward addressing concerns about democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine,” said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, “however much more remains to be done.”
The United States urges Ukrainian authorities to end all politically motivated prosecutions.
The United States urges Ukrainian authorities to end all politically motivated prosecutions and undertake comprehensive judicial reform to ensure such selective justice does not recur.
Mr. Lutsenko called his release from prison “a victory of Ukrainian democracy, of the world democracy which has achieved in making sure that Ukraine begins making the right steps in stopping political repression in our country.”
European Union commissioner Stefan Fule called the pardons a “first but important step to deal with selective justice.” Ukraine is hoping to sign an Association Agreement and establish a free trade area with the European Union this fall, which the EU has made contingent on political and judicial reforms.
But not all of those wrongfully imprisoned have been released yet. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko remains in prison. She was convicted of abuse of office charges in October 2011 and sentenced to seven years in prison. She remains in detention. U.S. Department of State Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said, the United State joins “the European Union in calling on the Ukrainian Government to end the politically motivated prosecution of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and to release her from prison.”
The United States strongly supports the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for a democratic, prosperous, and European future, which can only be realized through continued democratic and economic reform and adherence to rule of law. The United States remains dedicated to strengthening its relationship with Ukraine on the basis of shared transatlantic values.