The New York Times
The Czech Republic granted political asylum Friday to the husband of the jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia V. Tymoshenko, who said he sought refuge to prevent the authorities from putting pressure on her through her family.
Oleksandr Tymoshenko, the husband, left Ukraine late last year and formally applied for asylum shortly before the new year, said Natalya Lysova, a spokeswoman for Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party.
The Czech interior minister, Jan Kubice, speaking to journalists in Prague, said the ministry had approved asylum for Tymoshenko on Friday, Western and Russian news agencies reported.
Lysova said earlier that Tymoshenko’s chances had been good “because the whole world has acknowledged a political prosecution of Yulia Vladimirovna Tymoshenko is taking place in Ukraine, and all the European countries and the United States have condemned it.”
Tymoshenko has been named as a defendant in criminal cases involving United Energy Systems of Ukraine, a company Yulia Tymoshenko ran in the 1990s. The cases have been reopened in recent months.
Yulia Tymoshenko, 51, was sentenced to seven years in prison in the fall on charges that she had harmed Ukraine’s interests by agreeing to pay Russia a high price for natural gas. Western governments widely condemned the case as politically motivated.
Ukraine’s opposition hopes to make gains in upcoming parliamentary elections, and Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution, remains a leader capable of rallying forces that oppose President Viktor F. Yanukovich.
Oleksandr Tymoshenko, whom Yulia Tymoshenko married at age 19, was her partner in United Energy Systems, which sold Russian natural gas to Ukrainian customers. He was also implicated in earlier cases against his wife related to the company and served time in jail.
In 2005, Ukraine’s prosecutor general dismissed a range of criminal cases involving United Energy Systems. Some of them were revived this fall, however, after Yulia Tymoshenko was convicted over a gas deal with Russia. Yulia Tymoshenko is facing accusations of using the company to hide earnings, evade taxes and embezzle state funds.
Yulia Tymoshenko remained defiant through her trial and incarceration, and recently published a column accusing Yanukovich of “godlessness, inhumanity and criminality.”
Last week, she was abruptly transferred from a detention center near Kiev, the capital, to a prison camp 300 miles east of the city, reducing her access to the press and the public.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s daughter, Yevhenia Carr, remains in Ukraine and has not applied for asylum, Lysova said.
The New York Times