Tymoshenko’s husband seeks asylum in Czech Republic, says source
PRAGUE, Jan 6 — The husband of Ukraine's jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has asked for asylum in the Czech Republic, a Czech government source said on Friday.
Former Prime Minister Tymoshenko was sentenced in October in to seven years in prison for abuse of office in what the United States and the European Union denounced as a politically-motivated trial.
Her husband, Oleksander Tymoshenko, requested asylum in the Czech Republic at the end of last year, the source told Reuters.
"He applied at the end of the last year and there has been no decision yet," the source said.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which handles asylum cases, declined to comment.
The Czech Republic has a policy of supporting opposition in countries that have patchy human rights records, a legacy of former President Vaclav Havel.
Last year, the Czech Republic granted asylum to Bohdan Danylyshyn, a former economy minister in Tymoshenko's cabinet wanted in Ukraine for suspected abuse of office.
Ukraine expelled two Czech diplomats and the Czechs retaliated later in the year, straining relations.
Oleksander Tymoshenko is part owner of a business registered in the Czech Republic.
Yulia Tymoshenko's case has seriously strained relations between President Viktor Yanukovich's government and the West.
The EU, which had planned initial agreements on political association and free trade with Ukraine at a summit in December, put off the signing and cited Tymoshenko's case as an example of selective justice in the former Soviet republic.
Tymoshenko served as prime minister after helping to lead the 2004 "Orange Revolution" protests, which overturned an election victory for Yanukovich in his first bid for the presidency and which, for a while, cast him adrift politically.
She has denied exceeding her powers when forcing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia as prime minister. The 51-year-old has recently been moved to a prison cell under 24-hour camera surveillance. — Reuters