Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website] said Friday that he will sign a law [press release] allowing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [official website; JURIST news archive] to travel abroad for medical treatment, if the bill is passed by the Verkhovna Rada [official website, in Ukrainian], Ukraine's parliament. In 2011 Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison [JURIST report] on charges of abuse of power and corruption. The former PM has been suffering from spinal problems and has been treated by German doctors while incarcerated. Tymoshenko's continued imprisonment has been a major hurdle [Reuters report] to the November 28 signing of association and free trade agreements [EU backgrounder] between Ukraine and the EU. The EU had announced shortly following Tymoshenko's imprisonment that her treatment would have repercussions for Ukraine's EU accession [press release].
Pending charges and the imprisonment of Tymoshenko have led to an international outcry for her release. In May the Ukraine Prosecutor General [official website, in Ukrainian] reopened [JURIST report] a murder case against Tymoshenko. The charges, originally filed in January [JURIST report], allege that Tymoshenko and former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko [JURIST news archive] ordered the murder of Yevhen Shcherban and two others in 1996. The European Court of Human Rights [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in April that Ukraine violated the European Convention on Human Rights by jailing Tymoshenko for politically-motivated reasons. In February Tymoshenko was fined USD $2,000 for contempt [JURIST report] of court after a hearing in Kiev. In January the state began investigating [JURIST report] her lawyer for several criminal charges. In September the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] unanimously passed [JURIST report] a resolution calling for Ukraine to release Tymoshenko from prison.