Jailed Tymoshenko's health 'deteriorating'

2011-08-19 22:02

Kiev - Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has complained of a mystery illness while being held in jail during a trial for abuse of power, suffered worsening health on Friday, her spokesperson said.

"Her condition has again deteriorated," Natalia Lysova said after Tymoshenko on Thursday requested a visit by her personal doctor and was taken ill in court, prompting an adjournment until Monday.

One of the leaders of the Orange Revolution, Tymoshenko went on trial on June 24, charged with exceeding her powers while prime minister by signing a deal on imports of Russian gas to Ukraine on unfavourable terms.

She was later arrested on August 5 for contempt of court and has since been held in a jail cell, in a move that has sparked international criticism.

On Thursday, Tymoshenko's lawyer told the judge that his client was showing "worrying symptoms that cannot be explained".

Her right-hand man Olexander Turchinov said she had "bruises from burst blood vessels all over her body".

EU concerned

"The investigation is falling apart. The regime cannot destroy her through legal means and we are afraid that they will destroy her in other ways," Lysova said, hinting at foul play.

The European Union is "very concerned" about the state of Tymoshenko's health, a spokesperson said in Brussels.

"Her health is deteriorating and the Ukrainian authorities must ensure timely and independent medical examination and professional care," said Michael Mann, spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

Ukraine is making moves towards closer co-operation with the European Union and Mann said that, while talks will continue, the recent developments "aren't very positive".

The EU is insisting that an "independent medical team" be allowed to visit the former prime minister in prison, he added.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian prison service, Oksana Velkova-Lagoda, said she could not immediately provide information on Tymoshenko's state of health.

Political repression

The prison service on Thursday had said that Tymoshehko had refused to be examined by a medical commission including a deputy health minister and several senior doctors.

The opposition leader has insisted that she should be examined only by her own doctor, who has followed her health for several years, her second spokesperson, Marina Soroka, said.

"We could see how the authorities had falsified the investigation [into Tymoshenko]. Can we be sure they would not falsify the results of blood tests and her state of health?" Soroka said.

Tymoshenko has slated the charges against her as political repressions orchestrated by her opponent President Viktor Yanukovych, who beat her in the final round of presidential polls last year.

Her ally in the Orange Revolution, ex-president Viktor Yushchenko, suffered facial disfigurement in 2004 before being elected as president, attributed by his supporters and several medical experts to deliberate dioxin poisoning.