BRUSSELS – The European Union has postponed a meeting planned this week with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych because of concerns over judicial standards following the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Voice of America said. A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday that the meeting is “postponed to a later occasion when the conditions will be more conducive to making progress in bilateral relations.’’
Yanukovych had been due to travel to Brussels Thursday to meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the president of the EU council of member states, Herman Van Rompuy. The decision followed hints from Yanukovych that Tymoshenko would not be quickly released, even if legislation is passed that would turn her crime into a less serious offense.
Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of office in the signing of a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009, but Tymoshenko’s lawyers said they would appeal the verdict. Tymoshenko has repeatedly denied the charges and described her trial as “a political lynching,” aimed at allowing Yanukovych to rid himself of a political rival. The U.S. and the EU have condemned the conviction as politically motivated. Tymoshenko was expected to be the main opposition candidate in next year’s election.