KIEV (Reuters) - The daughter of Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko sees two years of pain and “psychological torture” ending for her mother with her departure to Germany for medical treatment by November 19 under a deal brokered by European envoys.
The release of Tymoshenko, jailed for seven years in 2011 after what the West said was a political trial, is expected to clear the way for the ex-Soviet republic to sign landmark agreements with the European Union at the end of November.
Yevgenia, Tymoshenko’s 33-year-old English-educated daughter, told Reuters that her mother was ready to compromise now so as not to jeopardize the signing in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on November 28.
“Her decision was mainly based on the fact that Ukraine is living through this historical time when Ukraine should decide, and must take the step of joining the European family. It was to make sure that the signing is not blocked or stalled because of her decision to stay,” she said.
“It was very hard for her to make this decision (to leave) but she has now made the decision and now we are waiting for the decision from the president,” Yevgenia said.
The likely option is for Tymoshenko to be freed to go to Germany for treatment at Berlin’s Charite clinic, she said.
Her departure to Germany, whenever it comes, will mark the end of a battle of wills between President Viktor Yanukovich and Tymoshenko, his arch rival whom he only narrowly defeated in a run-off for the presidency in February 2010.
Despite pressure from Western governments to end what they see as a flagrant case of selective justice, Yanukovich only indicated he might free her after being warned a refusal would endanger key deals on association and free trade with the EU.
The agreements and the shift westwards could herald a historic break from dominance by Russia, and encourage foreign investment that would help Ukraine with its short-term debt repayment obligations.
Two European envoys, who have shuttled between Brussels and Kiev for a year and a half, have appealed to Yanukovich to pardon Tymoshenko to allow her to travel to EU member Germany for treatment for a chronic spinal condition.
While Yanukovich indicated on October 11 he would relent, he set no specific time and must solve the issue well before the Vilnius summit with the EU bloc.
Tymoshenko, 52, is said by her family to have been reluctant to accept a pardon from Yanukovich since this would not clear her of a criminal conviction, which will hinder a quick return to politics in Ukraine for the fiery populist.
Technical details related to her departure for Germany were being discussed, Yevgenia said, though there was still no word from Yanukovich’s side on the timing or conditions.
EU ministers are expected to sign off on the pacts at a key November 18 meeting - assuming Yanukovich frees Tymoshenko. “I hope on the 19th November we can all be happy. This the latest date for the authorities (to make their decision),” said Yevgenia.
Tymoshenko is under prison guard in a hospital in northern Ukraine where she is being treated by German doctors.
She was in considerable pain and cannot walk without help, Yevgenia said. “It continues to be psychological torture for her ... These two years have been so trying and difficult and torturing we (her family) feel she will be re-born again (when she is released).”
Tymoshenko said on October 4 she was ready to go to Germany for treatment “for the good of a successful Ukraine”. But she said she would not seek political asylum there and would return to Ukraine to fight “dictatorship” there.
Under the so-called partial pardon being worked out for her, Tymoshenko’s seven-year sentence would be officially viewed as having been fully served and she would be freed.
That would ensure the criminal conviction would remain on her record, barring her from running for office for three years and rule her out of the February 2015 presidential election.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled Tymoshenko’s pre-trial detention unlawful [ID:nL6N0DH3GI] and Yevgenia hoped European courts would eventually overturn the original verdict.
Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Jon Boyle