German foreign minister presses Ukraine on jailed Tymoshenko

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KIEV (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the use of “selective justice” in Ukraine and indicated he would press President Viktor Yanukovich on Friday to let his jailed opponent Yulia Tymoshenko go to Germany for medical treatment.

Speaking to journalists before meeting Yanukovich, Westerwelle said: “From our point of view, Mrs Tymoshenko has full rights to an honest judicial hearing and decent medical treatment. The German proposal for medical monitoring and treatment (in Germany) remains on the table.”

“It is very important that ‘selective justice’ is not used in any system of values in Europe. It must not be allowed in either Europe or Ukraine,” he said.

Tymoshenko, 52, a former prime minister and Yanukovich’s most dangerous political opponent, was jailed for seven years in October 2011 for abuse of office linked to a 2009 gas deal she brokered with Russia.

The Kiev leadership says the deal saddled the former Soviet republic with an exorbitant price for gas supplies.

But the European Union says her jailing smacks of political vengeance and many EU officials say a planned signing of political association and free trade agreements with Ukraine later this year could be in jeopardy unless she is freed.

The Yanukovich leadership says it is committed to European integration rather than forging a closer relationship with Russia in a Russia-led Customs Union and hopes the landmark agreements with the European Union can be signed in November.

But freeing the 52-year-old Tymoshenko, a fierce political campaigner, and lifting other pending charges against her could be risky for Yanukovich as he prepares to make a bid for a second term in office in 2015.

German officials say releasing Tymoshenko so she can travel to Germany for medical treatment for chronic back trouble might present Yanukovich with a way out of the stalemate.

Westerwelle met leaders of opposition parties and Tymoshenko’s daughter, Yevgenia, before going on to talks with Yanukovich.

(Reporting by Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk)

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