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EU 'very concerned' over health of jailed Tymoshenko

The European Union said on Friday it was "very concerned" about the worsening health of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and called for an independent medical exam. Tymoshenko remains jailed as she faces trial for abuse of power.

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AFP - The European Union is "very concerned" about the mystery illness and health of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a spokesman said Friday.

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

He insisted upon the need for Tymoshenko, who was not long ago a very familiar face at EU meetings in Brussels, to be examined by "an independent medical team."

"We are very concerned at the state of health of Mrs Tymoshenko," he stressed.

Tymoshenko, being held in a prison cell while on trial for abuse of power, on Thursday requested permission for a medical examination over mysterious symptoms.

The charismatic former prime minister has been detained behind bars for contempt of court as she stands trial on charges of signing a 10-year gas deal with Moscow on terms that Kiev is now trying to renegotiate.

Her condition deteriorated further on Friday, according to her team.

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

"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," Tymoshenko spokeswoman Natalia Lysova told AFP, hinting at foul play.

The head of the EU's delegation in Kiev has requested to be allowed to visit the former premier in prison.

"We are looking for an immediate and positive consideration to this request by the Ukrainian authorities," EU spokesman Mann said.

The EU's concern comes at a time when Kiev is engaged in discussions on a possible association agreement with the European Union, a preliminary step towards membership, which it hopes will be completed by the end of the year.

While assuring that those talks will continue, Mann added that the recent developments "aren't very positive."

Ashton early this month called on Kiev to respect raised norms of the rule of law if it wants to successfully complete the political and economic association talks.
 

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