KIEV, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s parliament on Friday voted for amendments in the criminal code which could pave the way for the release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
The amendments would decriminalise aspects of the criminal code relevant to her prosecution and set Ukrainian law in line with European Union legislation, her supporters said.
“We are insisting that there is a vote on a bill which would free Tymoshenko,” former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, who has taken over as head of her Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party since she was jailed, told parliament.
Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and long-standing rival of President Viktor Yanukovich, was narrowly defeated by him in a run-off for the presidency in February 2010.
She was jailed in 2011 for seven years for abuse of office linked to a gas deal she brokered with Russia as prime minister after a trial denounced as political by the European Union.
Andriy Kozhemyakin, a pro-Tymoshenko deputy, said the move would do away with Soviet-era legislation that allows people in power to destroy political opponents. “We must cut this knot,” he said.