Tymoshenko has ended a hunger strike

2012-05-09 20:59

Kiev/Brussels - Ukrainian ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko on Wednesday ended a hunger strike, which started on April 20 to protest her treatment in prison, and began receiving treatment from her personal doctor.

German neurologist Lutz Harms of the Charite clinic in Berlin told

Reporters in the east Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where Tymoshenko is incarcerated, that she will begin drinking juice immediately and be allowed to take solid food later, in order to "bring her back from a starvation state".

Tymoshenko was transferred to a state hospital earlier on Wednesday to receive treatment for back problems and the effects of her hunger strike. She is unable to stand unaided and suffers from low blood pressure and fainting spells, her lawyers have said.

In Brussels, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the end of her protest. His country has been one of the most vocals in the European Union in criticising Ukraine's treatment of its former prime minister.

"It is important that she is doing well," he said at a conference organised by German broadcaster WDR to mark Europe Day. He wished conditions would improve for other imprisoned politicians, "even those who are not so well known".

On Tuesday Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution, had threatened to continue her hunger strike and refuse medical treatment if Ukrainian government doctors attempted to touch her.

A Kiev court in October sentenced the 51-year-old to seven years on abuse of power charges stemming from a natural gas import agreement that Ukraine signed with Russia while she was in office.

Tymoshenko has denied allegations of wrongdoing and maintains she is the victim of a government campaign to eliminate critics.

Ukraine has been roundly criticised in the EU and the United States over the affair.

The government on Tuesday was forced to cancel a conference for central and east European leaders in Yalta, because close to a dozen invitees had cancelled their attendance.

In addition, several EU officials said they would not attend this summer's Euro 2012 football games in Ukraine. The country is co-hosting the event with Poland.

Some cited Tymoshenko's alleged mistreatment in prison as the reason for missing out on Yalta or the football tournament, drawing complaints from Ukraine's Foreign Ministry that the European "boycott" was counter-productive.

Westerwelle said that sporting events offer an opportunity to pay closer attention to the internal affairs of a country, but held back from commenting on the Euro 2012 controversy because right now "a good piece of quiet diplomacy is required".

In Warsaw, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski on Wednesday said political differences over Tymoshenko's status should not be allowed to harm sport.

"The point is that a political battle [should] not spoil our mutual Polish-Ukrainian sports feast and the endeavours that... should be helpful on Ukraine's road to European integration," Komoworski said.

Poland is a staunch supporter of Ukraine's democracy and integration with the EU, although Ukraine's pro-Russia government has in recent years shown limited enthusiasm for the idea.

Komorowski appealed for Ukraine to scrap laws that allow giving jail sentences for political decisions. Those laws, which enabled Tymoshenko's imprisonment, were "outdated" and a product of the "old [Communist] epoch and source of bad ... decisions," he said.

Read more on:    yulia tymoshenko  |  ukraine

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