US Calls on Ukraine to Release Tymoshenko

Posted May 1st, 2012 at 10:20 am (UTC-5)
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The United States is calling for the release of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other imprisoned members of her former government.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is “deeply concerned” about Ms. Tymoshenko's treatment. Clinton urged Ukrainian authorities to ensure Ms. Tymoshenko receive immediate medical assistance in an appropriate facility. She also called for the release and restoration of full civil and political rights to her and other members of the former Tymoshenko government.

Ms. Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevgenia, says her mother's health is deteriorating and called for European governments to keep up the pressure. She said she hopes the Ukraine government will take action so her mother will stop a hunger strike she began 12 days ago, after she said she was beaten by prison guards.

The government has threatened to force-feed Ms. Tymoshenko if necessary.

German doctors diagnosed Ms. Tymoshenko last week with back problems that they say cannot be treated in Ukraine, but the Kyiv government has refused appeals to allow her to leave.

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Several European leaders have called off visits to Ukraine and threatened to boycott a major football (soccer) tournament to be played there in June.

Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last year on charges of abuse of office in a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She is now standing trial on tax evasion charges that could extend her prison time to 12 years. Ms. Tymoshenko denies the charges and says they are part of a campaign by President Viktor Yanukovich to remove his strongest political rival.