Thursday, March 27, 2014


                                    Press Information Bureau
                                        Government of India
                                         Ministry of Finance

                                                                  27-March-2014 17:33 IST

Banks and Income Tax Offices to Remain Open on 29th, 30th and 31st March, 2014

In order to facilitate the payment of taxes by the tax-payers before the close of the Financial Year 2013-14, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided on request of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) that all agency banks shall keep open the counters of their designated branches conducting Government Business on Saturday, March 29, 2014. The said counters shall remain open for extended hours till 8.00 pm. At locations where Monday, March 31, 2014 has not been declared as a public holiday, the said counters shall remain open for extended hours till 8.00 pm. Further, on Sunday, March 30, 2014, agency  will keep select branches open at key locations as a regular working day for transacting Government Business.
Similarly, on Monday, March 31, 2014, at places where public holiday has been declared, the same select branches shall remain open as a regular working day for transacting Government Business. All electronic transactions would, however, continue till midnight on March 31, 2014.

Source : Press Information Bureau

Payment of Dearness Allowance to Central Government employees – Finance Ministry Order

Payment of Dearness Allowance to Central Government employees – Finance Ministry Order

No.1/1/2014-F-II (B)

Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Expenditure
North Block, New Delhi
Dated: 27th March. 2014

Subject: Payment of Dearness Allowance to Central Government employees – Revised Rates effective from 1.1.2014.

The undersigned is directed to refer to this Ministry’s Office Memorandum No.I-8/2013-E-II (B) dated 25th September, 2013 on the subject mentioned above and to say that the President is pleased to decide that the Dearness Allowance payable to Central Government employees shall be enhanced from the existing rate of 90% to 100% with effect from January, 2014.

2. The provisions contained in paras 3, 4 and 5 of this Ministry’s O.M. No.1(3)/2008-E-11(B) dated 29th August, 2008 shall continue to be applicable while regulating Dearness Allowance under these orders.

3. The additional installment of Dearness Allowance payable under these orders shall be paid in cash to all Central Government employees.

4. The payment of arrears of Dearness Allowance shall not he made before the date of disbursement of salary of March. 2014.

5. These orders shall also apply to the civilian employees paid from the Defence Services Estimates and the expenditure will be chargeable to the relevant head of the Defence Services Estimates. In regard to Armed Forces personnel and Railway employees, separate orders will he issued by the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Railways, respectively.

6. In so far as the employees working in the Indian Audit and Accounts Department are concerned, these orders are issued with the concurrence of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
Under Secretary to the Government of India

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vitamin D deficiency risk to 84 % Indians: Survey

 Changing lifestyle, increasingly odd working hours and limited outdoor activities are leaving a bad impact on human health as 84 per cent of the country’s population was found vitamin D deficient, a recent survey said here today.

“In the face of present-day lifestyles, dominated by ungodly working hours and limited outdoor activities, inherent vitamin D deficiency is increasingly becoming an eyesore among a large number of people. There is Vitamin D deficiency risk to 84 per cent of Indians,” SRL Diagnostics said in its survey report.
The human body’s ideal dose of vitamin D ranges between 1,000 and 2,000 IU (International Units) per day.
“Vitamin D deficiency was found to be prevalent in around 69 per cent of the population, while 15 per cent more were found to be vitamin D insufficient, thus making around 84 per cent of Indians risk-prone to this, the survey said.
The report pointed out that skin exposure to the sun is natural, intended, and most effective source of vitamin D, yet the most neglected. Tests that estimate the level of vitamin D have become increasingly common, pan-Indian.
Testing for vitamin D deficiency has been known to protect a majority of the Indian population from joint pains, muscle weakness, cardiovascular disorders and other more serious problems that could be permanently detrimental to one’s health.
While research on the impact of vitamin D on ailments is ongoing, doctors believe it is clearly associated withdiabeteshigh blood pressures, bone weakness, nerve-related disorders and obesity.
Doctors also point out that vitamin D directly benefits patients with diabetes and cardiovascular ailments. A sizable body of evidence proves the link between vitamin D and people with diabetes and heart ailments.
After pregnancy, women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis due to high demands of calcium and vitamin D, it added.

Amendments in Post Office Life Insurance Rules-2011 - reg.

Contribution of India to The World – Proud To Be Indian

Monday, March 24, 2014

Withdraw orders making Aadhaar mandatory for any service: Supreme Court tells Centre

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to explain why the Aadhaar card is still being treated as mandatory for availing any service.

"If there are any instructions that Aadhaar is mandatory, it should be withdrawn immediately" a bench of justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar said while staying the order of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court directing sharing of data collected for issuing Aadhaar card to citizens with CBI for solving a rape case.

The apex court has also directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) not to share any information pertaining to an Aadhaar card holder with any government agency.

The probe agency had sought the data base, including biometrics of persons from Goa, so that those could be compared with the ones obtained from the crime scene for the purpose of investigating rape of a minor girl in a school premises in Vasco.

The court in its interim order had said that the Aadhaar card be not made mandatory for people for availing any government services and any order saying Aadhar is mandatory should be withdrawn.
The bench passed the order on a petition filed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) challenging the High Court order which asked it to consider sharing biometric data collected from people with CBI in order to help the investigating agency solve a rape case in Vasco.

The High Court had in an February 26 interim order directed the Director-General, Central Forensic and Scientific Laboratory (CFSL), New Delhi, to appoint an expert to ascertain if its data base has the technological capability for matching the chance fingerprints electronically obtained.

UIDAI had contended the order would set a bad precedent, besides opening floodgates of similar requests by various investigative agencies/ police calling for information, including biometrics of residents, for the purpose of investigation.

It said biometric data cannot be shared without the consent of the resident and as per its current data-sharing policy and guidelines.

In its plea, UIDAI submitted more than 60 crore residents have enrolled themselves for Aadhaar by providing their demographic and biometric information for civilian application only and sharing the data would endanger the fundamental rights of the citizens.

"Building a system that can search using latent fingerprints, quite like criminal database searches, is not within the constitutional and legal mandate and scope of UIDAI and fundamentally against the core reason residents have provided their data voluntarily to UIDAI," the petition said.

"The right to privacy is one of the basic human rights of an individual and UIDAI is committed to protect this aspect," it said.

UIDAI came into existence on January 28, 2009, for providing 12-digit Aadhaar number to those citizens who registered themselves. Its purpose is envisaged as a means to enhance delivery of welfare benefits and services.

The number is stored in a secure database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information?photograph, 10 fingerprints and iris?of each individual.

The apex court is also seized with a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar card with those opposing the mega project saying it was not backed by any statute and compromises with national security.

Among the petitioners are Justice K Puttaswamy, former high court judge and Major General S G Vombatkere, who retired as Additional Director General, Discipline & Vigilance in Army HQ, also sought to restrain the Centre, the Planning Commission and UIDAI from issuing Aadhaar cards by way of an executive order of January 28, 2009.

- With PTI inputs.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Inspiration for today's youths: Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev & Rajguru

23 March is the Martyrs day or the 'Balidan Din' of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev & Rajguru !

 I Salute these great Heroes !
‘When power is misused, it translates into violence; but when it is used for achieving one's Righteous goals, it amounts to justice.’ This revolutionary ideology was stated by the great revolutionary Bhagat Singh. ‘Any sacrifice will be inadequate to accomplish the greatest aim of freeing the motherland’, was the inspiring outlook of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, his associates in the freedom fight. Today is the day when these three great revolutionaries laid down their lives in their effort to achieve their goal !

O People ! Do not be so ungrateful to Revolutionaries so as to forget them !


23rd March is the day that Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev attained Martyrdom. One example of the resoluteness of Sardar Bhagat Singh and his associates remains inspirational even today. In order to disgrace Sardar Bhagat Singh and his associates, the then British Government informed them,’ If you feel that you should be spared from being hanged, then you must apply for mercy.’ The spirited answer to that advice, as given by Sardar Bhagat Singh, was as follows-

“The Government says that we should apply for mercy. But why should we do so? Are we thieves or dacoits or goondas? We are political prisoners in this war for freedom. The blood of complete freedom is circulating in every blood vessel of ours. Whatever bold action we did was for the sake of freedom alone ! We may not be worshippers of non-violence; our path may not be devoid of atrocities but is it not true that we are freedom-fighters? If the government has even a fraction of justice left within it, it has to treat us as political prisoners. We will never beg for mercy.

We do not intend to face this death sentence by saying ‘Do whatever you like but spare us from being hanged’. We dislike even climbing on the foot board meant for hanging. We are brave soldiers and true men ! Hence treat us like that by either shooting us with bullets or blast us with cannons. Who wants to face such a feeble sentence as hanging? We request you to respect this last wish of ours!”
Our politicians have seemingly dismissed memories of revolutionaries’ sacrifice completely. Their martyrdom appears to have no value for those with a political agenda.

O People, though the politicians have forgotten these revolutionaries, you at least do not be ungrateful to Revolutionaries by forgetting them !


Martyr Bhagat Singh

Born : 27th Sept. 1907, Punjab.
Died: Hanged in the early hours of 23rd March 1931.

As a freedom fighter, he was considered to be one of the most famous revolutionaries of the Bharatiya Independence movement. For this reason, he is often referred to as Martyr Bhagat Singh. At such a young age, if anyone was smiling just before being hanged to death, it was Martyr Bhagat Singh. His uncle, Sardar Ajit Singh as well as his father, were both great freedom fighters, so Bhagat Singh grew up in a patriotic atmosphere.

At an early age, Bhagat Singh started dreaming of uprooting the British Empire. Never afraid of fighting during his childhood, he thought of 'growing guns in the fields', so that he could fight the British. The Ghadar Movement left a deep imprint on his mind. Kartar Singh Sarabha, hanged at the age of 19, became his hero. The massacre at Jallianwala Bagh on 13th April, 1919 drove him to Amritsar, where he kissed the earth sanctified by the martyrs' blood and brought back home a little of the soaked soil. At the age of 16, he used to wonder why so many Bharatiyas could not drive away a fistful of invaders.

In search of revolutionary groups and ideas, he met Sukhdev and Rajguru. Bhagat Singh, along with the help of Chandrashekhar Azad, formed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA). The aim of this Bharatiya revolutionary movement was now defined as not only to make Bharat independent, but also to create a socialist Bharat.

A brutal attack by the police on veteran freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai at an anti-British procession caused his death on 17th November 1928, in Lahore. Bhagat Singh was determined to avenge Lajpat Rai's death by shooting the British official responsible for the killing, Deputy Inspector General Scott. However he shot down Assistant Superintendent Saunders instead, mistaking him for Scott. Then he made a dramatic escape from Lahore to Calcutta and from there to Agra, where he established a bomb factory.

The British Government responded to the act by imposing severe measures like the Trades Disputes Bill. It was to protest against the passing of the Bill that he threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall (now our Loksabha) while the Assembly was in session. The bombs did not hurt anyone, but the noise they made was loud enough to wake up an enslaved Nation from a long sleep.

After throwing the bombs, Bhagat Singh and his friend deliberately courted arrest by refusing to run away from the scene. During his trial, Bhagat Singh refused to employ any Defence counsel.

Despite great popular pressure and numerous appeals by political leaders of Bharat, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were accorded the death sentence and hanged in the early hours of 23rd March 1931. Their bodies were cremated on the bank of the Sutlej in Ferozepur. Bhagat Singh was just 23 years old at that time. Old timers say that in many places, not a single hearth fire burned that day.

The last paragraph of the leaflet that he distributed (and wrote) in the Assembly Hall said: "We are sorry that we who attach such great sanctity to human life, we who dream of a very glorious future when man will be enjoying perfect peace and full liberty, have been forced to shed human blood. But sacrifice of individuals at the altar of the Revolution will bring freedom to all, rendering exploitation of man by man impossible. Inquilab Zindabad (Long live the Revolution)."

There was a time when the very mention of the name of the young revolutionary stirred the passions of most Bharatiyas.

We pay obeisance to this invaluable son of Bharat, who is still an inspiration to millions of Bharatiyas.

We pay obeisance to this invaluable son of Bharat.


Sukhdev Thapar

Sukhdev Thapar
Sukhdev Thapar

Sukhdev Thapar (15th May 1907 - 23rd March 1931) was a Bharatiya revolutionary from Punjab.

He was an active member of the HSRA, being one of its senior most leaders. He is known to have started study circles at the National College (Lahore), in order to delve into Bharat's past as well as to scrutinise the finer aspects of the world’s revolutionary literature. Along with Bhagat Singh and others he started the ‘Naujawan Bharat Sabha’ at Lahore. The main aims of this organisation were to activate the youth for the freedom struggle, inculcate a rational scientific attitude, fight communalism and end the practice of untouchability.

His letter to Mahatma Gandhi written just prior to his hanging, protesting against the latter's disapproval of revolutionary tactics, throws light on the disparities between the two major schools of thought among Bharatiya freedom fighters at that time.

We pay obeisance to this invaluable son of Bharat

Shivram Rajguru

Shivram Rajguru
Shivram Rajguru

Shivram Hari Rajguru (1908 - 23rd March 1931) was born in an average middle-class Hindu Brahmin family at Khed in Pune District in 1908. He came to Varanasi at a very early age where he learnt Sanskrit and read the Hindu religious scriptures. He had a great admiration for Shivaji and his guerrilla tactics.

At Varanasi, he came in contact with revolutionaries. He joined the movement and became an active member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA). Rajguru had a fearless spirit and indomitable courage. The only object of his adoration and worship was his motherland, for whose liberation, he considered no sacrifice too great. He was a close associate of Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh and his field of activity was UP and Punjab, with Kanpur, Agra and Lahore as his headquarters.

Rajguru was a good shot and was regarded as the gunman of the party. He took part in various activities of the revolutionary movement, the most important being Saunder's murder. Chandrashekhar Azad, Shivram Rajguru, Bhagat Singh and Jai Gopal were deputed for the job. On 17th December 1928, while Saunders came out of his office and started his motor-cycle, he was shot dead in front of the police headquarters at Lahore by Rajguru.

At the time of his martyrdom, Rajguru was hardly 23 years of age.

We pay obeisance to this invaluable son of Bharat.

Friday, March 21, 2014

22 March World Water Day : 5 reasons you can’t survive without water

March 22 is World Water Day. 
60% of our body-weight is made up of water and without it our organs wouldn’t function properly. A reduction of more than 10% of our normal body water percentage can be termed as a medical emergency and can be fatal. Despite being so important, a lot of people don’t drink enough water. The reason might be laziness or indifference, but not staying hydrated can be extremely dangerous. Here are some of the top reasons why your body needs water.
1.  It maintains the balance of body fluids
Maintenance of body temperature, digestion and absorption of food, circulation of blood – these are all functions your body will be unable to perform if you don’t give it enough water.
2. Helps get rid of toxins
Without water, your body wouldn’t be able to get rid of toxins that can cause damage to your cells and organs. If you drink adequate water, your body will excrete harmful toxins like blood urea nitrogen through your kidneys. 
3. Keeps your digestive system in mint condition
If you don’t get enough water, your colon will pull water from the stools to get enough water foryour digestive system. This will result in dry stools that are difficult to pass through your colon. Drinking water or eating foods rich in water like cucumber or papaya will help prevent this problem.
4. Keeps you looking beautiful
Many actresses swear by water when it comes to maintaining their beauty. (Katrina Kaif drinks 4 glasses of water after waking up!) Drinking a lot of water will ensure that everything from your eyes to your skin look great.
5. Keeps you active
A loss of just one percent of your normal body water percentage can leave you feeling tired. A loss of more than 2-4% can affect your mental functioning too. This is why you need to drink enough water to keep yourself active and free from any sort of fatigue. Read more about howwater is the fuel that keeps your body running
These are just some of the basic health benefits of water. Besides this, it can also help you lose weight and prevent heart disease as it is a much healthier substitute to sugar-loaded soft drinks for quenching thirst. You may already be drinking water a few times in a day, but are you drinking enough?

World Water Day History

World Water Day is celebrated every year on 22nd of March by the people all across the world. The day was established to be celebrated as an annual event in the year 1993 by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly. This campaign was declared as a World Day for Water to be celebrated on 22nd of March each year to increase the awareness among the people about the importance, need and conservation of water.
It was first officially added in the schedule 21 of the year 1992 “United Nations Conference on Environment and Development” in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and celebration was started from the year 1993 to motivate the general public in order to get their support in water conservation by avoiding the use of their taps for whole day.

Why World Water Day is Celebrated

The United Nation including member nations celebrate this campaign by implementing the UN recommendations as well as promoting the globalwater conservation through the real activities. This campaign is specially promoted by one of the UN agencies every year which involves encouraging the people to listen and understand about the water issues as well as coordinating with the international activities for the World Water Day. Since the beginning of this event celebration the UN-Water has been responsible for the selection of World Water Day theme, distribution of global messages as well as leading the UN agencies for celebrating the World Day for Water.
Including the UN member states and agencies, various NGOs and non government organizations also become involved in the promotion of clean water conservation focusing the public attention over all the critical issues of water. During this event celebration, all the water issues are highlighted to the public such as how people are inaccessible to the safe water and etc.

How World Water Day is Celebrated

World water day is celebrated throughout the world to increase the awareness of people towards the importance of water in various field of life including the environment, health, agriculture and trade. It is celebrated by organizing variety of events and activities such as visual art, theatrical and musical celebrations of water, excursions to the local ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs, symposium at local, national and international level over water management and safety, distributing messages through TV andradio channels or internet, educational events based on the importance of clean water and conservative measures, competitions and so many activities. The main symbol of the World Water Day celebration is the shape of water drop of blue color.

Newly Appointed Postal Assistant Salary as on date

Postal Assistant Salary is higher than newly appointed bank clerk and Its more lucrative for aspirants who looks for government job. It became the first option as salary is concerned.

Now a notification is published by the Department of Posts, Government of India in connection with candidates are called for the post of POSTAL ASSISTANTS for the vacancies of 2013-2014. After their selection for the post of POSTAL ASSISTANTS they will be appointed in the scale of pay in Pay Band 5200-20200 with Grade Pay 2400.

Let us know How much of Gross pay as on 01.01.2014 will be drawn by the newly appointed Postal Assistant.

If appointed in the rural areas,

Basic pay - Rs.7510

Grade Pay - Rs.2400

Dearness Allowance @ 100% - Rs.9910.00

House Rent Allowance @ 10% (BP+GP) - Rs.991.00

Transport Allowance (Rs.800+100%) - Rs.1600.00

Gross - Rs.22411.00

If appointed in the A1 cities like CHENNAI, CALCUTTA, MUMBAI & DELHI

Basic Pay - Rs. 7510.00

Grade Pay - - Rs. 2400.00

Dearness Allowance @ 100% - Rs. 9910.00

House Rent Allowance @ 30% (BP+GP) - Rs.2973.00

Transport Allowance (Rs.1600+100%) Rs. 3200.00

Gross - Rs.25993.00

If appointed in the B1 cities (list of B1 cities issued by the Central Government)

Basic Pay - Rs. 7510.00

Grade Pay - Rs. 2400.00

Dearness Allowance @ 100% - Rs. 9910.00

House Rent Allowance @ 30% (BP+GP) - Rs .1982.00

Transport Allowance (Rs.800+100%) - Rs.1600.00

Gross - Rs.23402.00

Apart from this you can draw hill station allowance if you are posted in the hill stations.

SC/ST Candidates selected under Review in respect of LGO Examination held on 15.09.2013 AP CIRCLE

Circle office, Hyderabad vide letter no RE-2-2/LGO Exam/CON/2013 dated 21.03.2014 has announced the list of SC/ST candidates selected out of the review undertaken in respect of L.G.O examination for promotion to the cadre of Stg Assistant/Postal Assistant held on 15.09.2013.

Closing of Central Government Offices in connection with General Elections

Closing of Central Government Offices in connection with General Elections

P. NO. 12/7/2014-JCA 2
Government of India
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
(Department of Personnel & Training)
North Block, New Delhi
Dated the 21st March,2014
Subject: Closing of Central Government Offices in connection with general elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies and Bye Elections to Legislative Assemblies during 2014.
The undersigned is directed to say that in connection with the general elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha & Sikkim and Bye Elections to Legislative Assemblies of some States, scheduled to be held in 2014, the following guidelines, already issued by DOPT vide OM No. 12/14/99-JCA dated 10th October, 2001, have to be followed for closing of the Central Government Offices including Industrial Establishments in the States:-
(i) The relevant offices/organizations shall remain closed on the day of poll in the notified areas where general elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assembly are scheduled to be conducted.
(ii) In connection with bye-election to State Assembly, only such of the employees who are bona-fide voters in the relevant constituency should be granted special casual leave on the day of polling. Special Casual leave may also be granted to an employee who is ordinarily a resident of constituency and registered as a voter but employed in any Central Government Organization/Industrial Establishment located outside the constituency having a general/bye-election.
2. The above instructions may be brought to the notice of all concerned.
(Ashok Kumar)
Deputy Secretary(JCA)
Closing of Central Government Offices in connection with General Elections
Source : DOPT

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Orange Revolution 2.0 @ Ukraine

Understanding the geography of Ukraine !

What caused the protests?
  • The trigger was the government's decision not to sign a major partnership deal with the EU, despite years of negotiations aimed at integrating Ukraine with the 28-nation bloc. That decision was announced on 21 November.
  • Thousands of pro-EU Ukrainians poured onto the streets of the capital, urging President Yanukovych to cancel his U-turn and go ahead with the EU deal after all. He refused, and the protests continued.
  • On 30 November in the early hours riot police waded in heavily to break up a student protest, leaving dozens of people injured.

  • Anger at the TV pictures only fuelled anger with President Yanukovych, and boosted the crowds in Independence Square.
  • The authorities sought to defuse the anger through measures such as the suspension of the mayor of Kiev and release of detainees.
  • On 17 December, Russia and Ukraine announced a major deal under which Russia would buy $15bn-worth (£9.2bn; 10.9bn euros) of Ukrainian government bonds and slash the price of Russian gas sold to Ukraine.
  • The deal - of critical importance to Ukraine at the time when the country is struggling to avoid default - appeared to take the wind out of the sails of the protest movement, with the number of demonstrators dwindling.
  • But when a pro-opposition journalist, Tetyana Chornovol, was beaten up by unknown assailants on Christmas Day there was an outcry.
  • The approval of tough new laws to curb street protests then appeared to further fuel the anger in Kiev.
Who are the protesters?
  • The protesters are mainly from the Kiev area and western Ukraine, where there is a greater affinity with the EU, rather than in the Russian-speaking east and south - though they include eastern Ukrainians too.

  • Parliament's three opposition movements have all been involved in the protests. Vitali Klitschko, the former world heavyweight boxing champion and leader of the Udar (Punch) movement, has been a prominent demonstrator. He is very pro-EU and plans to run for president in 2015.
  • One of the most important Ukrainian protesters is Arseniy Yatsenyuk, parliamentary leader of the country's second biggest party, called Fatherland. He is an ally of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister now in jail, who is an arch-rival of the president.
  • A new development since Ukraine's last major round of unrest, in the 2004 Orange Revolution, is the presence of ultra-nationalists. The far-right group called Svoboda (Freedom) is also protesting, led by Oleh Tyahnybok (pictured second from left).
  • Another radical right-wing group, which has been blamed for trying to provoke the police, is Bratstvo (Brotherhood), which is not a parliamentary party. And yet another, Right Sector, was linked to clashes in January.
Why is Yulia Tymoshenko important?

  • Internationally, Tymoshenko has become a symbol of opposition to Mr Yanukovych, and a cause celebre in the EU.
  • She was jailed in 2011 for criminally exceeding her powers over a gas deal with Russia in 2009, and is serving a seven-year sentence. Many EU politicians accept her allegation that her trial was politically motivated. The European Court of Human Rights did not go as far but did rule that her pre-trial detention had been "arbitrary and unlawful".
  • Critics of Tymoshenko argue the abuse of office conviction was just the tip of the iceberg. They allege that she lined her pockets as prime minister while betraying the Orange Revolution in which she played a key role.
  • The EU set her release as a key condition for signing the association agreement with Ukraine - but Mr Yanukovych resisted the pressure to free her. Tymoshenko says she has a serious back ailment and wants to get treatment in Germany.
How has the West reacted?
  • The EU's official position is that the door remains open for Ukraine to sign the association agreement but it has put any new negotiations on hold until there is a clear commitment to sign.
  • EU foreign ministers have sought to reassure Russia  that the deal would not undermine Moscow's interests.
  • Washington has said it is considering all options, including sanctions, towards Ukraine's leaders after the crackdown on 30 November.
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed "disgust" at the decision by the authorities to "meet the peaceful protest... with riot police, bulldozers, and batons".
  • Both the EU and US have condemned the tough new anti-protest laws, saying they are incompatible with Ukrainians' democratic aspirations.
Is Russia pulling the strings in Kiev?

  • To many observers, the deal struck between Russia and Ukraine on 17 December points to a carrot-and-stick approach by the Kremlin.
  • Mr Yanukovych's abrupt snub to the EU came after Russia exerted strong economic pressure on Ukraine.
  • The 2004 Orange Revolution led to Mr Yanukovych's removal from power after his election was judged to have been fraudulent. Russia backed him then - and backs him now.
  • In the run-up to the EU decision, Russia imposed time-consuming border checks and a ban on Ukrainian sweets - and threatened other measures.
  • Apart from Ukraine's heavy reliance on Russian gas, many Ukrainian firms - especially in the country's Russian-speaking east - depend on sales to Russia.
  • Mr Yanukovych, who was democratically elected in 2010, still has a strong support base in eastern and southern Ukraine, and there have been street demonstrations by his supporters.
  • For centuries Ukraine was controlled by Moscow and many Russians see Ukraine as vital to Russian interests.