Tymoshenko defence insists on her release after ally freed

The Ukrainian authorities must release jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko following the pardoning of one of her top allies, the opposition's leader's lawyer said on Monday.

President Viktor Yanukovych pardoned former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who was serving a four-year jail sentence, on Sunday as thousands of opposition supporters held a protest in Kiev against his rule.

"We insist on her release, as Yulia Volodymyrivna was accused and sentenced absolutely illegally," her lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko told AFP on Monday.

"She hadn't committed the crimes she was charged with."

"I'm talking not about a pardon. I'm talking about complete rehabilitation, politically and legally," he said.

Tymoshenko's fate depends entirely on the will of Yanukovych, Vlasenko added, calling on him "to release Yulia Volodymyrivna immediately in order to improve Ukraine-EU relations."

Vlasenko didn't propose any legal procedures for how this should be done. Analysts say that Lutsenko's release did not mean there would be a similar gesture by the president towards the far more prominent Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, who lost a heated presidential election to Yanukovych in 2010, was jailed for seven years in 2011 on charges of overstepping her authority while prime minister by agreeing a gas deal with Russia.

Tymoshenko is currently on trial on separate charges of fraud and tax evasion and was also charged in January with ordering the 1996 gangland-style shooting of a lawmaker.