10/11/2011 07:03 EDT | Updated 12/11/2011 05:12 EST

Yulia Tymoshenko: Canada Denounces Ukraine Opposition Leader's 'Arbitrary' Prosecution

OTTAWA - Canada warns the "arbitrary prosecution" of a Ukrainian opposition politician may have serious consequences for bilateral relations between the two countries.

Yulia Tymoshenko, a popular opposition leader in Ukraine, was convicted of abuse of office and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada is troubled by the manner in which the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Tymoshenko were carried out by Ukrainian authorities.

The verdict is also being condemned by the United States and European Union as politically motivated.

In a statement, Baird says the apparent political bias and arbitrary prosecution in this and other cases hamper Ukraine's democratic development.

In a letter to President Viktor Yanukovych, Baird urged the Ukrainian government to strengthen judicial independence.