The White House said on Monday that it was encouraged by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to pardon former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and former Environment Minister Heorhiy Filipchuk, according to Xinhua.

"This is an important step toward addressing concerns about democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine," White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

However, he stressed "much more remains to be done."

"We urge Ukrainian authorities to end all politically motivated prosecutions, undertake comprehensive judicial reform to ensure such selective justice does not recur, and fully implement the OSCE recommendations made after the 2012 parliamentary elections," Hayden added.

Lutsenko, who served as the interior minister in the government of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from 2007 to 2010, was arrested in December 2010 on charges of misusing budget funds and giving gifts and privileges to his driver. He was serving a four- year sentence.

Former environmental minister Filipchuk was accused of abuse of office as he allowed a payment of nearly UAH 1.5 million Ukrainian Yryvnia (about 180,000 U.S. dollars) to the ministry lawyers.

The two were released from prison Sunday under a presidential pardon.