President Viktor Yanukovych has pardoned the former Minister of the Interior, Yuriy Lutsenko, and former Environmental Minister, Heorhiy Filipchuk.  The decree pardoning the two has appeared on the Presidential website.

On 3 April the High Specialised Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases had reaffirmed the original court ruling in the case against Lutsenko which meant that he would have to serve out his four year sentence to the end of 2014.  

Lutsenko himself had said that he would not seek a pardon from the President but also that he would not remain in prison if pardoned.

Whilst the pardon itself is unconditional, it is understood that Lutsenko's lawyers will continue to try to overturn the initial court ruling.

On hearing the news of Lutsenko's release, EU Commissioner Stefan Fule tweeted:  "AT LAST-welcome very much Pres Yanukovych decision 2pardon #Lutsenko&#Filipchuk:first but important step 2deal w/ selective justice."

Meanwhile the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said:

"I wish to deeply thank Presidents Cox and Kwasniewski for their efforts in securing the pardon and release of Yuriy Lutsenko. Presidents Cox and Kwasniewski's commitment, under my tutelage, have ensured that Yuriy Lutsenko is a free man who can enjoy his first night in years with his family. I welcome Yuriy Lutsenko's pardon and release as a positive sign.

Fair and independent justice is needed in Ukraine and the release of Mr Lutsenko is a step in the right direction. It follows an earlier release of former Defence Minister Valeriy Ivashchenko last August. Our efforts to improve the conditions and address the case of Yulia Tymoshenko who is still held by Ukrainian authorities continue."

After fourteen intensive missions to Ukraine, Presidents Cox and Kwasniewski will report back on 18 April 2013 to the Conference of Presidents in Strasbourg on the progress achieved.

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