KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday rejected legal amendments that could have allowed the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, defying Western pressure to free the country's top opposition leader.
Parliament, dominated by President Viktor Yanukovych, killed a set of proposals that would have lifted Tymoshenko's status as a felon and resulted in her release.
Pro-Tymoshenko's lawmakers walked out of the session hall in protest, shouting "Shame!"
Tymoshenko, 50, was sentenced to seven years in jail last month for abusing office while negotiating a gas supply deal with Russia in 2009. The United States and the European Union have harshly condemned that verdict as politically motivated. Tymoshenko charges that Yanukovych, her longtime foe, has ordered the legal assault against her to bar her from elections.
Tymoshenko has appealed the ruling, but her lawyers believe the decision will be upheld. Tymoshenko is pinning hopes on getting the verdict overturned by the European Court of Human Rights, but that could take months, if not years and it is unclear if such a ruling would be legally binding in Ukraine.