(No. 296 - October 11, 2011 - 6:15 p.m. ET) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement in response to the conviction in Ukraine of Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and currently an opposition leader, on charges of abuse of power:
“Canada is troubled by the manner in which the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko were carried out by Ukrainian authorities. The apparent political bias and arbitrary prosecution in this and other cases hamper Ukraine’s democratic development. A legitimate and active opposition is a vital part of a vibrant and effective democracy.
“There are clear signs that the court proceedings fall far short of internationally recognized norms of fairness, transparency and due process.
“In my recent letter to President Viktor Yanukovych, I urged the Ukrainian government to strengthen judicial independence and capacity. These are necessary to the peaceful, democratic and prosperous society that Ukraine is striving to become, and Canada will continue to support their efforts in this direction.”
“Today’s developments may have serious consequences for our bilateral relationship.”
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