EU turns down Ukraine leader over jail row
The European Union has postponed a meeting this week with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich because of concerns about the trial and jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
“The meeting is postponed to a later occasion when the conditions will be more conducive to making progress in bilateral relations,” said a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Yanukovich had been due to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the president of the EU council of member states, Herman Van Rompuy, tomorrow. Ashton’s spokeswoman said the step was taken to underscore the need for Ukraine “to make progress in ensuring the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.” Ukraine jailed Tymoshenko last week for seven years for abuse of office in a trial that the United States and European Union say was politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine yesterday said they were nearing a compromise in gas negotiations while a rift between Kiev and the EU widened over the jailing of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovych hosted his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in the Ukrainian leader’s industrial power base of Donetsk for a planned summit on regional cooperation but energy was expected to top the agenda. Yanukovych is also seeking to negotiate lower gas prices with the Kremlin while trying to resist pressure for tighter integration with Russia.