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article imageUkrainian ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko freed from prison

By Abdul Kuddus     Feb 22, 2014 in World
Kiev - Amid unrest and political instability in Ukraine, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has reportedly been released after serving more than 2 years in prison, a move that possibly signals Ukraine’s shift toward the European Union.
CBC news reported the opposition leader is heading from the prison in the eastern city of Kharkiv to the capital to join protesters there. Her release materialized following a European-brokered peace deal Friday between Yanukovych and the opposition.
Tymoshenko, the heroine of the Orange Revolution and Ukraine’s prime minister from 2007 to 2010 lost the presidential race in 2010 to the current president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Shortly thereafter, she was sentenced to seven years in prison on criminal charges relating to a controversial gas trade deal with Russia— a conviction which her supporters believe was politically motivated.
The bullets, Molotov cocktails and deaths represent Ukraine’s dilemma of balancing its interests between Russia and the West for centuries.
According to the New York Times, Ukraine’s situation is a “lingering Cold War-era fight between Russia and the West for influence over countries in Eastern Europe still suffering from political and economic problems rooted in the Soviet era.”
President Yanukovych enraged pro-Europeans by turning away from the European Union to build closer ties with Russia three months ago. Following days of massive protests and violence that left nearly 100 protesters dead, he made sweeping concessions in a deal brokered by European diplomats on Friday.
Earlier Saturday, protesters seized Yanukovych's Kyiv office signalling the slackening of the pro-Russian leader's grip on power following bloodshed in the capital.
A large section of Ukrainians, especially those inhabiting the Western parts see closer ties with Europe as a hope to improve their lives with much-needed economic reforms and changes in the justice system.
Refusing to leave, Yanukovych described the situation in protest-ridden Ukraine as a "coup d'etat."
Tymoshenko now finds herself at the forefront of Ukrainian politics to lead a new generation of pro-European protesters who led the mass protests that brought down Yanukovich.
Her release from prison could see a decisive shift in Ukraine’s future; away from Moscow's influence and closer to the West despite Ukraine’s near-bankruptcy status and heavy dependence on Russian aid.
For Moscow, the loss of a strategic country nearly 15% larger than France is in many ways a conflict about the former Soviet republic's future direction.
A lot is at stake for Russia. Without Ukraine, Moscow would have to contend with a group of central Asian dictators. Precisely why it wants Ukraine to be part of the Eurasian Union, Russia’s alternative to the EU.
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