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Yulia Tymoshenko is in prison for the crimes defined in the penal code. However, this case has a political character. Those who decided about it are states and politicians who defended her before the Ukrainian authorities.
At this stage in addition to criminal liability there is also a political context. The reaction of Ukrainian authorities is political too because the actual lack of response to claims of West European leaders is equivalent to a political declaration.
Another issue is the interest of the Ukrainian public opinion, which – based on attitude towards Yulia Tymoshenko and her sentence – will make their decision in the upcoming election.
What thickens this political sauce is the fact that the described case prevented the achievement of the important political goal which was the process of association between Ukraine and the EU.
I have repeated the word “political” several times in this text, regardless of grammar correctness, but I must use it again. The only answer to political problem is a political response. The upcoming election will give a chance to Ukrainian voters to express their view, also on this particular case. There will be two parties opposing each other – the Party of Regions with their allies and the opposition party Batkivshchyna together with their partners. The vote will signify either affirmation or rejection of the policy toward Yulia Tymoshenko. Whichever of these parties wins, the world will not be the same any longer. If the Party of Regions comes first, it will turn out that this bloc has benefited from such a treatment of the former Prime Minister. On the other hand, if Batkivshchyna wins, it would mean that the citizens reject this way of acting.
The western public opinion will have to accept this result because the political decision will be made by the Ukrainian voters. The main point is to make sure that the election will be free and fair. If it is so, it will be very hard for the EU institutions to question the voters’ verdict. But even in this case, the observer institutions will need the sufficient number of arguments to give the seal of approval to the election regardless of who wins it.
About the author: Marek Maciej Siwiec, a Member of the European Parliament since 2004 and its Vice President between 2007 and 2009; a physicist by profession and a journalist.