KIEV – Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday voted against bills that would have allowed jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko to go abroad for treatment, dealing a potentially fatal to blow to the chances of signing an association deal with the EU this month.
The Verkhovna Rada rejected all six bills put forward on the treatment of convicts abroad, after they failed to gain the support of President Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling Regions Party.
Opposition lawmakers, who had supported all the legislation, shouted “shame” as the bills were rejected. MPs from Yanukovych’s Regions Party, as well as their Communist allies, did not cast their votes in the voting on any of the six bills.
All six bills received 200 votes in favour out of 450 MPs in parliament, short of the 226 votes needed for the legislation to be passed.
EU leaders have made clear that Ukraine will only be able to sign the Association Agreement –- a first step to membership –- at the November 28-29 summit in Vilnius if it allows some form of release to Tymoshenko who was jailed in 2011 in a controversial abuse of authority case.
Pro-Tymoshenko opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that as a last resort, Yanukovych should sign a decree granting an amnesty to Tymoshenko, presenting the speaker with a symbolic copy of such a document.
Parliament has for the last weeks unsuccessfully tried to agree a bill on allowing the treatment of convicts abroad, which would allow the ailing Tymoshenko to receive medical treatment in Germany.