08/04/13 00:15 CET
| updated xx mn ago
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Two allies of jailed former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, have been released from prison in the first sign of any relaxation in a campaign against her and other members of the opposition.
It is believed the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pardoned former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko, and ex-ecology minister, Heorhiy Filipchuk, to appease Western critics.
Both men, like Tymoshenko, were charged with abuse of office.
Analysts said the pardon was one of the key factors ahead of the signing of agreements with the EU in November.
Following his release from prison Lutsenko urged opposition supporters to pursue public protest, and his brother Serhiy Lutsenko said they will continue to fight the accusations against him:
“We are going to file appeals to the European Court of Human Rights and get the ruling that his imprisonment, his arrest and all accusations against him were groundless, to say the least, and that he has committed no crime”.
Meanwhile another opposition leader, world heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko, spoke to around six thousand protesters in the centre of Kiev.
He said: No country can call itself democratic while there are political prisoners. We will fight for Yulia Tymoshenko, and others who are locked up, to be freed.”
The US and EU have condemned the prosecutions of former government members as politically motivated.
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