Ukraine extends travel ban for Tymoshenko lawyer

AFP , Friday 10 Jan 2014

Pro-European integration supporters shout slogans during a protest rally demanding the resignation of Ukraine's interior minister, in front of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kiev January 8, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

A Ukrainian court ruling on Friday has extended a travel ban on the lawyer of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is charged with assaulting his ex-wife in a case he claims is politically motivated.

A Kiev district court extended by two months a ban on Sergiy Vlasenko travelling beyond the cities of Kiev and Kharkiv, where Tymoshenko is hospitalised under guard, the Interfax news agency reported.

The lawyer had requested that his travel ban be lifted so he could visit Brussels in February on the invitation of members of the European Parliament.

The case against Vlasenko, which relates to alleged domestic violence committed several years ago, was launched in November as Ukraine was deciding whether to sign a historic agreement with the European Union.

President Viktor Yanukovych eventually chose to ditch the EU deal and seek closer relations with Russia in a move that triggered a wave of street protests in the former Soviet country's biggest political crisis in a decade.

Vlasenko faces up to two years in jail if convicted on both charges of battery and intentionally inflicting light bodily harm.

Vlasenko, who has been released on bail, has denounced the case against him as a "total lie" and "political repression".

"I am only here because I am on Yulia Tymoshenko's defence team," he told reporters after a hearing earlier this month.

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