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Europe

Tymoshenko transferred to hospital, ends hunger strike

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-09

Imprisoned Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko ended a 20-day hunger strike on Wednesday as authorities transferred her from a jail in the eastern city of Kharkiv to a hospital where she is to be treated for severe back pain.

AFP - Ukraine's jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on Wednesday halted a 20-day hunger strike after she was moved to a hospital to defuse a crisis overshadowing the Euro 2012 football.

Ukraine's prison authorities in the early morning transferred Tymoshenko from her jail in the eastern city of Kharkiv to the hospital where she will receive treatment from a German doctor for severe back pain.

The doctor confirmed that the 51-year-old former prime minister had ended the hunger strike she began in April in protest at allegedly being roughly handled by prison guards.

"She has halted her hunger strike. We are now building up towards a normal nutrition regime," Lutz Harms of the Berlin Charite clinic told reporters. "This process will take several days."

"She is very weak and we will need to wait several days for her situation to stabilise," said Harms. He said that for the moment Tymoshenko was taking in just water and juices and would only start eating food later.

Tymoshenko ends 20-day hunger strike, transferred to hospital for treatment

According to her daughter Yevgenia, Tymoshenko lost 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) while refusing food.

"We will start a thorough therapy programme which will take some time -- most likely it will take at least eight weeks and up to several months," the doctor said.

Ukraine is facing a possible extensive EU boycott of the Euro 2012 matches it is co-hosting with Poland in June over its treatment of Tymoshenko, who was jailed for seven years in October after a trial condemned by the West.

The authorities are hoping the hospital transfer will slacken the Western pressure on Kiev as the move complies with a key demand of Tymoshenko to be treated by a foreign rather than a Ukrainian specialist.

The prisons service said the former prime minister left the jail in Kharkiv at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and arrived at the hospital, a state establishment run by Ukrainian railways, one hour later.

Kharkiv is one of four Ukrainian cities that will stage Euro 2012 matches in what as to be the biggest showcase for Ukraine since it won independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The prisons service said that during her transfer Tymoshenko made no complaint about her health. "According to doctors, the state of her health has not deteriorated in the last days," it said.

Harms, a neurologist who will be assisted by a Ukrainian team, was earlier confirmed by the authorities as Tymoshenko's official doctor during her hospital stay.

Tymoshenko faces a new trial on May 21 in a separate case where she is accused of tax evasion but the doctor said it was "highly improbable" that she would be fit enough to attend.

Tymoshenko is confirmed to be suffering from a slipped disc in her spine but supporters say even before her hunger strike she was extremely frail and unable to walk.

The opposition leader had previously demanded to be treated outside Ukraine, fearing that she could be deliberately infected or poisoned in a Ukrainian establishment.

Amid an escalating diplomatic crisis, Ukraine was on Tuesday was forced to scrap plans to host a regional summit scheduled for later this week after most of the participants pulled out in protest.

All EU commissioners are set to boycott matches hosted by Ukraine in the Euro and Germany has not ruled out such a move for its ministers, in what would be a huge blow to Kiev.

The European Union has expressed concern that the convictions of Tymoshenko and several of her former ministers were politically motivated and noted that the abuse of power charges would never have come to court in an EU state.

Tynoshenko was found guilty of causing losses of $190 million to the state gas firm in agreeing a 10-year contract for gas imports for Russia in 2009 on terms deemed overly advantageous to Moscow

Date created : 2012-05-09

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