EU Parliament suspends Ukraine mission for polls
(BRUSSELS) - The European Parliament on Tuesday suspended a mission to Ukraine to review the EU's ties with Kiev -- strained over the fate of former premier Yulia Tymoshenko -- because of the country's upcoming elections.
The Parliament's President Martin Schulz said the legislature did not want the mission to come under pressure or be caught up in the campaign for the October 28 legislative elections.
Schulz said the mission would resume its work after the polls, or at least by the end of the year. He added that the officials might return later if necessary.
Tymoshenko, 51, was jailed for seven years last year on abuse-of-power charges that she claims were a part of a vendetta by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych against her and her former government team.
She cannot participate in the upcoming polls.
The two mission envoys, Ireland's Pat Cox and former Polish president Aleksander Kwasnievski, are expected to present an interim report shortly after showing it Tuesday to a closed-door meeting of party leaders in parliament.
Kwasnievski said the EU's dialogue with Kiev had to be continued after the elections, but also urged a review of possible steps to support imprisoned opponents of the government.
Earlier this month, Tymoshenko urged European powers to help free her country from "dictator" Yanukovych.
"We must begin to act not after the elections but before," Tymoshenko was quoted as saying by her lawyers, speaking with the Polish edition of Newsweek magazine.
"After the elections, it will be too late," she added.