Ukraine: Tymoshenko verdict not final
Kiev - Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday said that the verdict to jail opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko for seven years was not final and he understood the EU's anxiety over the case.
"It has made the European Union anxious and we understand why this is so," he told reporters. "Today the court took its decision in the framework of the current criminal code. This is not the final decision," he added.
He admitted that "beyond doubt this is a regrettable case which is impeding the European integration of Ukraine today".
The European Union has warned the trial could thwart the signing of an Association Agreement with Ukraine, the first step towards membership.
Yanukovych said that the court of appeal still lay ahead in the case and also appeared to allude to moves to decriminalise the statute in the criminal code under which Tymoshenko was condemned.
"There is the court of appeal ahead and what decision it will take and under which legislation has great importance."
In the first hint of a compromise solution his Regions Party said last month it was ready to examine the possibility of decriminalising the charges that have been laid against Tymoshenko.
No concrete moves have been taken to implement the idea but Ukrainian officials have told AFP that Yanukovych had personally informed EU leaders about the possibility at a summit in Warsaw last month.
Regions Party deputy chair Dmytro Shentsev, whose faction holds a clear majority in parliament, said it would examine the move if Tymoshenko was prepared to pay back the losses of around $200m she is judged to have caused to the state.
Tymoshenko was jailed on charges of abusing her power while in office for agreeing a gas deal with Russia that was deemed overly advantageous to Moscow.