EUROPEANS PRESS UKRAINE’S LEADER TO ACCEPT DEAL ON TYMOSHENKO, IN RETURN FOR TRADE PACT

Reuters on August 4, 2013, reported on a dilemma of Ukraine’s president Yanukovych. He might be ready to let her out. But he can’t afford to let her back.

As deadlines near on the future of Ukraine’s ties with Europe, President Viktor Yanukovich is under pressure to put aside personal animosity and let his jailed opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, go to Germany for medical treatment.

Softening Yanukovich’s hardline stance on his arch-rival is seen as crucial if Ukraine is to secure the signing of landmark agreements, including a free trade deal, with the European Union at a November summit.

…diplomats say, [however] the 63-year-old former truck driver knows that allowing her to rejoin the political fray would endanger his run at a second term in 2015…

“The proposal is for Tymoshenko to go for treatment in Germany on condition that she does not take part in Ukraine’s political life,” wrote Dmitry Korotkov in Segodnya newspaper.

Since late 2011 [Tymoshenko] has been serving a seven-year jail term after being convicted of abuse-of-office, most of it under guard in a hospital where she is being treated for back trouble.

She denies any wrongdoing and says her prosecution is political revenge – a view shared by the European Union which has denounced “selective justice” in the former Soviet republic.

For some months now, EU heavyweight Germany has been formulating a plan to provide Yanukovych with a way out – quietly pushing a “humanitarian” solution in which Tymoshenko could be received for medical treatment in a Berlin hospital.

This formula – so the logic goes – would allow Yanukovych to show himself in a good light and might ensure signing of planned agreements on political association and free trade with the European Union at the Vilnius, Lithuania, summit.

Envoys from the European Parliament who also last April helped secure the release of a Tymoshenko ally, visited Ukraine again last week, pushing “the German option” as a way of breaking the deadlock over Tymoshenko.

According to [one] source, the Yanukovych camp is insisting as part of any deal that she must pay back more than 1.5 billion hryvnia (about $188 million) in estimated damages to the Ukrainianeconomy caused by her alleged reckless conduct as prime minister.

Yet an end to the impasse promises Yanukovych rich rewards.

The free-trade agreement potentially on offer from the European Union would open up a huge market for Ukrainian exports – steel, grain, chemicals and food products – and provide a powerful spur for much-needed foreign investment.

That would be a boon for a country traditionally reliant on trade with Russia…

An EU deal is also in the interests of influential power brokers in Ukraine such as steel billionaire Rinat Akhmetov and others, and Yanukovich has consistently set European integration as a foreign policy priority.

Nevertheless, only a change of power in 2015 and the end of the Yanukovich leadership is likely to secure early release for the ambitious Tymoshenko.

Opposition figures such as world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko and former economy minister Arseny Yatseniuk have failed to agree a single candidate to challenge him.

Though opinion polls now show him well behind in any straight fight with Klitschko, most commentators believe he will be able to marshal the resources of wealthy entrepreneurs and a tamed press to ensure a second term.

So as time for a deal runs out – the mediation mandate of two European parliament envoys expires at the end of September – Yanukovych has yet to signal he is ready to compromise.

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