Tymoshenko's husband flees amid claims of persecution
Meanwhile his wife, Ukraine's ex-Prime Minister, faces 24-hour surveillance in jail
Oliver Poole is an award-winning Foreign Correspondent for the Evening Standard and Independent titles. In his career he has reported from war zones including Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq, where he was based during the worst years of the civil war. He has written two books, "Red Zone: Five Bloody Years in Baghdad' and 'Black Knights: On the Bloody Road to Baghdad'. He was previously a Foreign Reporter for The Daily Telegraph, and has written for the BBC, Guardian, Times and South China Morning Post.
Saturday 07 January 2012
The husband of former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was given political asylum in the Czech Republic yesterday after arguing he was being persecuted as part of a government vendetta against his wife.
Oleksandr Tymoshenko, 51, fled the Ukraine in December after Mrs Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years for abuse of office in a trial condemned by the West as politically motivated.
The decision is set to further worsen diplomatic relations between the two countries, which have been strained since two Czech diplomats were expelled last year for alleged espionage after asylum was granted to another Tymoshenko ally, Bohdan Danylyshyn.
The Czech Republic has supported victims of human rights abuses since it escaped the Soviet block in the 1989 "Velvet Revolution" in a policy first instigated during the presidency of Vaclav Havel, who died last month. Mrs Tymoshenko's Fatherland party said her husband sought asylum as he was being unfairly targeted by a criminal probe into her business activities when she owned Ukraine's main energy firm.
"This response by Oleksandr Tymoshenko is in response to amoral attempts to pressure and torment Yulia Tymoshenko by persecuting her loved ones and family," it said. "[The government] has chosen the dirtiest tactic: to break Yulia Tymoshenko by pressuring members of her family. His decision... was dictated by the desire to deprive the regime of mechanisms to pressure the leader of our party."
Mrs Tymoshenko's daughter, Eugenia, 31, last month told The Independent how she believed her phone was being tapped and that she was being followed by Ukraine's security services. She is still in Kiev but a family lawyer said she would also consider seeking asylum if the authorities sought to pressure her, too.
Mrs Tymoshenko, heroine of the 2004 pro-Western Orange Revolution, says her incarceration was motivated by a desire to prevent her standing in elections. Recently she was moved to a remote prison colony in the city of Kharkiv where she is being held under 24-hour camera surveillance in a cell with the overhead lights always on.
In 2001, she and her husband were jailed during a stand-off with the country's then-president on charges of corruption and embezzlement. The y were exonerated but the case was recently reopened, raising the prospect of Mr Tymoshenko being jailed.
The couple married in 1979 after Mr Tymoshenko, the son of a former communist party official, reputedly rang the then 19-year-old Yulia's phone by accident and they fell in love when she subsequently agreed to meet him. Their daughter was born the following year.
A Ukraine government spokesman said there had been no reason for Mr Tymoshenko to claim asylum in the Czech Republic.
"The principles of the supremacy of the law and a respect for the basic human rights and freedoms are observed in the Ukraine," the government official insisted.
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...