The husband of Ukraine's jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been granted political asylum in the Czech Republic, amid concerns by her supporters that family members may be targeted in a mounting pressure campaign.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice told reporters on January 6 that the ministry had approved Oleksandr Tymoshenko's application for asylum. Tymoshenko, 51, is currently in the Czech Republic and applied for asylum last year, according to Radio Liberty.

"Mr. Tymoshenko filed a request for political asylum with the Interior Ministry several months ago," Kubice said. "A standard procedure was followed, and the result is that [the asylum] was granted today."

In one of his first interviews since being granted asylum in the Czech Republic on January 6, Oleksandr Tymoshenko told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that the government of President Viktor Yanukovych "does not need Yulia Tymoshenko alive" and has called on world leaders to protect his wife from what he says are the government's efforts to "destroy" her.

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