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Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Tymoshenko release 'imminent'


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Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Tymoshenko release 'imminent'

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko will soon be released in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where she is being treated in hospital, her daughter signalled on Saturday.

Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for seven years for abuse of office linked to a gas deal and is a bitter rival of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yevgenia Tymoshenko was speaking to reporters after Ukraine’s parliament voted to accelerate the release of her mother, who was jailed in 2011 for seven years for abuse of office linked to a gas deal.

She was sentenced following a trial which the European Union has described as “politically motivated.” The former prime minister is a bitter rival of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Ukraine’s government, still led by an ally of embattled President Viktor Yanukovych, said it would ensure a smooth handover of power to a new administration.

“The cabinet of ministers and ministry of finance are working normally,” the government said in a statement. “The current government will provide a fully responsible transfer of power under the constitution and legislation.”

Meanwhile, leaders of mainly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine that are loyal to President Viktor Yanukovich challenged the legitimacy of the national parliament on Saturday and said they were taking sole control of their territories.

The parliament in Kiev has passed a series of moves in the past 24 hours that will reduce the president’s powers and pave the way to the formation of a national unity government and early presidential elections.

Mikhaylo Dobkin, Governor of Kharkov region in northeast Ukraine, told regional leaders meeting in the city of Kharkov: “We’re not preparing to break up the country. We want to preserve it.”

But a resolution adopted at the meeting said: “The decisions taken by the Ukrainian parliament in such circumstances cause doubts about their … legitimacy and legality.”

It added: “The central state organs are paralysed. Until the constitutional order and lawfulness are restored … we have decided to take responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens’ rights and their security on our territories.”

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