Denmark grants asylum to Ukrainian ally of jailed Tymoshenko: source

COPENHAGEN Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:00am EST

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark has granted political asylum to a Ukrainian former acting defense minister who served under jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, a Danish government source said on Monday.

Valery Ivashchenko, who served in Tymoshenko's second cabinet in 2009 and 2010, is the latest of her allies to flee Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovich came to power three years ago.

The Danish official, who requested anonymity, said Ivashchenko was granted a residence permit to stay in Denmark.

Ivashchenko was jailed in April 2012 for five years after being found guilty of abusing his powers in privatizing a Black sea repair facility - a charge which he said at the time was politically motivated. He was released in August of that year when the jail term was converted into a conditional sentence.

Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 on abuse-of-office charges. She denies any wrongdoing and says she is being persecuted by Yanukovich.

Her conviction and jailing has damaged relations between Ukraine and the West. The European Union has supported Tymoshenko, calling her case an example of selective justice, and shelved agreements on free trade and political association with Ukraine over the issue.

Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution which doomed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency, and she went on to serve twice as prime minister.

After Yanukovich became president in 2010, Tymoshenko and a number of her allies in opposition faced corruption-related charges in what she has described as a campaign of repression.

One of her former interior ministers, Yuri Lutsenko, was sentenced two years ago to four years in prison on charges of embezzlement and abuse office.

Tymoshenko's husband Olexander and another ally, former Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshin, have both fled to the Czech Republic where they have been granted asylum.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando in Copenhagen and Richard Balmforth in Kiev; Editing by Pravin Char)

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