The FINANCIAL -- Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovych faced harsh criticism at an international conference
on Friday over the jailing of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Ukraine's hopes of EU membership have stalled amid international outrage at the jailing of Yanukovych's political foe Tymoshenko for seven years for abuse of power over an energy deal she signed with Russia as premier.
Critics see the charges as politically motivated after Yanukovych narrowly beat Tymoshenko, who was his arch enemy during the 2004 Orange Revolution pro-democracy movement, in 2010 presidential polls.
Top European politicians raised the issue Friday at talks with Yanukovych as he presided over a conference of Yalta European Strategy, an international organisation, at a Tsarist palace in the Black Sea resort.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Elmar Brok and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule met Yanukovych.
In a joint statement they criticised the convictions of Tymoshenko and her former interior minister in "trials which did not respect international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal process".
"The issue of selective justice needs to be addressed in order to move ahead to a new level of our relations through the Association Agreement," the three officials said in their joint statement.
As EUbusiness reported, they also stressed that Yanukovych must ensure October 28 parliamentary polls are fair, criticising the fact Tymoshenko is unable to stand.
"The legitimacy of the future parliament will depend on the conduct of the elections which need to be free and fair, in accordance with high international standards," they said.
Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice also raised the case with Yanukovych, warning that "the trial and imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko has caused concern. The case is being closely monitored."
Tymoshenko has complained of ill treatment in detention and is currently being treated for back problems in a civilian hospital. She is now going on trial on fresh charges of embezzlement and tax evasion.