, KIEV, Jan 6 – The husband of Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has fled to the Czech Republic where he is seeking political asylum, officials said on Friday.
Tymoshenko’s party said Oleksandr Tymoshenko — a 51-year-old businessman with a stake in the Czech company International Industrial Projects — fled because the authorities were using him to put pressure on his wife.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the application would probably be granted, telling state-run Czech Radio: “It was clear from our talks with the interior minister that the interior ministry has decided to grant the asylum.”
Prague last year granted asylum to Bogdan Danylyshyn, economy minister in Tymoshenko’s government in 2007-2010, causing a row with Ukraine that led to the expulsion of two Czech diplomats for alleged espionage in May 2011.
Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution, was sentenced in October to seven years in jail after being convicted of abuse of power while in office.
She claims the verdict was ordered by President Viktor Yanukovych in a case that has severely damaged ties with the EU.
Tymoshenko’s conviction was quickly followed by charges of financial crimes, allegedly committed while she was head of the state power company in the 1990s, that could keep her in prison even if the first case against her is overturned.
The second case also involves her husband, who spent a year in custody on charges of embezzlement in 2000-2001 but was freed because of a lack of evidence.
“(Oleksandr Tymoshenko) has sought political asylum in connection with the growing pressure being put on the opposition leader through her family,” Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party said on its website