Walburga Habsburg Douglas, vice-president of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly and member of Swedish parliament, was denied access to visit former Ukrainian prime minster Yulia Tymoshenko, who remains in prison, ForUm learned from the OSCE PA press office.

Habsburg Douglas is the third OSCE PA parliamentarian in as many weeks to have her request to visit Tymoshenko denied.

Habsburg Douglas and Asa Lindestam of the Swedish delegation to the OSCE PA visited Ukraine to meet with the OSCE field presence, government officials and civil society to take the pulse of the
situation of democracy and rule of law in the country which is set to chair the OSCE in 2013.

"A functioning legal system and the guarantee of legal security are among the most important democratic principles a country needs to uphold," said Habsburg Douglas. "It is unfortunate that we were prevented from meeting with Yulia Tymoshenko, and the denial of our request I hope will draw greater attention to deficiencies in the rule of law and democracy in Ukraine."

Yulia Tymoshenko was imprisoned in October 2011 after a trial seen as politically motivated by several outside observers. Tymoshenko was not allowed to submit a closing argument or evidence that would have supported her acquittal. Tymoshenko's daughter recently testified before the OSCE PA's human rights committee that her mother is not being afforded the medical care she requires in prison in Kharkiv.

In lieu of their meeting with the incarcerated former prime minister, the delegation and four Ukrainian parliamentarians from various political parties met with the prison director and requested the prison end its 24-hour video surveillance of Tymoshenko and allow her to be visited by national and international colleagues.

Two weeks ago two other members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly leadership, Dutch MPs Coskun Coruz and Kathleen Ferrier visited Kyiv for discussions about rule of law and judicial training. Ukrainian authorities denied their requests to visit Tymoshenko in Kharkiv.

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