A resolution introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Majority Whip, today unanimously passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The resolution, S.Res. 466, calls for the unconditional release of political prisoner and former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
"Tymoshenko was a key revolutionary in Ukraine's 2004 "Orange Revolution' and is a pro-Western reformer," said Inhofe. "The conviction orchestrated by the current administration was conducted under recycled soviet-era codes, and is a poorly veiled effort to dispose of a political rival. My resolution condemns the selective and politically motivated prosecution and imprisonment of Ms. Tymoshenko and other Orange Revolution leaders, and calls on our State Department and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to apply unified multilateral diplomatic pressure on President Yanukovych to release Tymoshenko. In addition, my resolution calls on the State Department to institute a visa ban against those responsible for the imprisonment and mistreatment of Ms. Tymshenko."
"Since her imprisonment in October, she has suffered from debilitating back pain and needs specialized treatment. International physicians have only been granted limited access. Collectively, between the false-imprisonment and denial of adequate medical treatment, this situation has amounted to a grave abuse of human rights."
"This resolution sends a strong and unmistakable message to the Ukrainian government: selective prosecution of political opponents has no place in the community of democracies. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko should be released immediately," Durbin said. "With parliamentary elections just around the corner, we also urge the Ukrainian government to conduct open and fair elections that are open to domestic and international observers."
President Yanukovych has cast a wide net of political intimidation over Ukraine's political system. In addition to Tymoshenko, the administration has brought charges against more than a dozen political leaders associated with the Orange Revolution. This abuse of the judicial system has not gone unnoticed.
On January 26, 2012 the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) passed Resolution 1862 declaring that the articles under which Tymoshenko was convicted are ""overly broad in application and effectively allow for ex post facto criminalization of normal political decision making."
Meanwhile, the European Union has delayed indefinitely the signing of a free trade agreement with Ukraine until Tymoshenko is freed. This resolution adds to the international scrutiny and protests over the abuses currently taking place in the Ukraine while affirming the Senate's unwavering support for Tymoshenko and political prisoners everywhere.