A landmark trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union has been placed in grave jeopardy after the country’s parliament voted not to permit jailed former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, to travel to Germany for medical treatment.
In parliament, members of opposition parties shouted “shame” after the vote. Those from Tymoshenko’s ‘Fatherland’ party wore white T-shirts bearing the slogan Freedom to Ukraine, while members of boxer-turned-politician Vladimir Klitschko’s UDAR party wore red T-shirts that read Ukraine is Europe.
The release of Tymoshenko, a fierce critic of President Viktor Yanukovich, is a key requirement for the accord with Europe to go ahead.
The EU and Ukraine had been due to sign the trade deal in Vilnius at a summit on November 28-29.
EU officials say there is no “plan B” if an agreement cannot be reached on Tymoshenko.
The deadlock will please Moscow, which has used its economic muscle to persuade Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to reject EU attentions and join a Russian-led customs union.