US praises Ukraine pardon of opposition figures
The United States on Monday praised Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych for pardoning two prominent allies of jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, but also called for her release.
Yanukovych signed a decree on Sunday pardoning six people, including former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko and Ukraine's former environment minister Georgy Filipchuk.
The move was an "important step toward addressing concerns about democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, but warned much more needed to be done in Ukraine.
"We urge Ukrainian authorities to end all politically motivated prosecutions, undertake comprehensive judicial reform to ensure such selective justice does not recur, and fully implement the OSCE recommendations made after the 2012 parliamentary elections," Hayden said.
Yanukovych has, however, earlier ruled out pardoning his top nemesis Tymoshenko and his decree Sunday made no mention of her.
Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy State Department spokesman, however, called for Tymoshenko to be set free.
"We join the European Union in calling on the Ukrainian government to end the politically motivated prosecution of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and to release her from prison."