In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Ukraine Service, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, husband of imprisoned former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, says he was forced to leave Ukraine and seek asylum abroad because of authorities’ use of “dirty methods” to persecute his family. Tymoshenko spoke at RFE/RL’s studios after Czech authorities granted him asylum.
A complete interview in Ukrainian is also available.
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Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has confirmed reports that the husband of Ukraine’s jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has asked for asylum in the Czech Republic.
Earlier, the Czech daily “Pravo” said Oleksandr Tymoshyenko asked for asylum at the end of last year. The Reuters news agency quoting a Czech government source also carried the same report.
“Pravo” said on January 6 that the Czech interior and foreign ministers discussed the issue on January 4.
“Pravo’s” website says it is “very likely” Oleksandr Tymoshenko, a 51-year-old businessman who also has business interests in the Czech Republic, will be granted asylum.
Belarus. Russia. Ukraine. Three countries that rarely leave the RFE/RL spotlight, and to follow are just a few of the most significant stories this week.
# A senior Member of Congress has pledged to push the Obama administration to support President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s indictment by the International Criminal Court. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) made the pledge at a congressional hearing after listening to dramatic testimony by former Belarusian presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich, who told the committee that he was tortured while in prison.
# Officials in the western city of Berastse have deported two Polish women working for the NGO Fundacja Institutum Orientalium. Belarusian migration officials said one of the women had been living in an apartment different from the one where she was officially registered, which they called a “serious violation.”
# As the relationship between Moscow and Dushanbe continues to sour over Tajikistan’s recent sentencing of two Russian pilots for smuggling and other alleged crimes, Tajik migrants working in Russia are paying the price. In the past week, hundreds of Tajiks have been arrested in Moscow, while many have been deported or are in detention while awaiting deportation rulings. Meanwhile, Afghan authorities have impounded a Russian freight plane belonging to the same aviation company that is at the center of this high-profile imbroglio.
# An epic trial in London involving two of Russia’s best-known financial oligarchs is providing a unique glimpse into the inner workings of Russian wealth and power and offers rare insight into how Vladimir Putin remade Russia into an authoritarian state and consolidated power while overseeing the state’s appropriation of formerly private media, oil, and other industries.
# In a rare interview, a former Soviet scientist has dismissed as “tall tales” claims that he helped Iran develop detonators for use in its nuclear program. Speaking with RFE/RL Vyacheslav Danylenko denied any knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program, saying his work in Iran focused on giving lectures on how to use explosives to synthetically produce diamonds. He had been named this week by western diplomats and a Washington-based NGO as the “foreign expert” mentioned by the UN nuclear watchdog in its recent report on Iran’s nuclear program.
# The daughter of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says her mother has fallen seriously ill in prison and is confined to her bed as prosecutors interrogate her on fresh charges and extend her detention. Appearing tired and downbeat in her interview with RFE/RL, Yevhenia Carr, Tymoshenko’s 31-year-old daughter, said she feared for her mother’s life, adding, “For the first time in the history of imprisonment, in criminal history, or [in the history] of the prisons of Ukraine, the investigation is carried out in a cell when the person is lying on a prison bed and cannot move.”
# In a Don Quixotesque love mission, an Arizona man went to Europe in search of a Ukrainian bride but ended up with a case of pneumonia and a wave of media attention.
Be sure to check out the round-up of RFE/RL’s Stories of the Year, a showcase of compelling storytelling and our bureaus’ best reporting.
For additional news on Russia and Ukraine, please follow Radio Svoboda online (also in Russian) and The Power Vertical on Twitter; follow news for Belarus at Radio Svaboda.