Yulia Tymoshenko's husband seeks asylum in Czech Republic


A supporter of Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko holds a picture of the opposition leader during a rally held outside Kiev's courthouse on December 20, 2011. The European Union warned Ukraine on December 19 that the jailing of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko had stalled the signing of an agreement taking Kiev a step closer to membership of the bloc. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY



Jailed Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s husband is seeking political asylum in the Czech Republic, Reuters reported. The former Prime Minister is currently serving a seven year prison sentence for abuse of power while in office.

Reuters reported that Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg confirmed the news of Oleksander Tymoshenko’s request for asylum after it was reported in Czech newspapers. The chances of his asylum request being granted are heightened by the fact that he has business ties to a Czech company.

The Czech Republic also granted asylum to another Ukrainian political refugee last year, Bohdan Danylyshyn, who served as a minister in Tymoshenko's cabinet, according to the BBC.

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Just days ago, hundreds of supporters gathered outside Tymoshenko’s prison defying a court ban when she was moved from a detention center in Kiev to a penal colony in Kharkov, according to news agency UPI. Many Wester countries viewed her trial as being politically motivated. Tymoshenko’s daughter, Yevgenia Tymoshenko, called the move “absolutely outrageous and illegal.” She was not informed of the move.

Yevgenia is not following her father’s footsteps in seeking asylum abroad, according to Ukrainian news agency Interfax.

Tymoshenko was sentenced in October to seven years after being found guilty of abusing the power of her office to push through a 2009 deal with the Russians on gas. The Tymoshenko trial and sentencing has strained relationships between the Ukrainian government led by President Viktor Yanukovich and the United States and the European Union. Tymoshenko accused her political rival, Yanukovich, of orchestrating the case against her, according to the BBC.

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Tymoshenko’s daughter and defense counsel have expressed concern at her deteriorating health and say that she is being kept in “inhuman conditions,” according to Reuters.