Russia called on Ukraine on Tuesday to fully observe the rights of jailed Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has complained of poor health and serious mistreatment by prison personnel.
“Moscow has treated with concern media reports about the deteriorating health of jailed ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who urgently needs medical treatment,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Ukrainian opposition leader has been jailed for seven years for abusing her power by pushing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She has maintained her innocence. Both Russia and the European Union have declared her trial politically motivated, an allegation the Ukrainian government has dismissed.
Tymoshenko has complained of serious health problems since her arrest in August 2011, but has rejected treatment in a penal colony in the eastern city of Kharkov where she is serving her term. A team of German and Ukrainian doctors who inspected her in mid-February said she had serious problems with her spinal column.
Last week, Tymoshenko was taken to a local clinic, which she said was against her will because she did not trust Ukrainian doctors. The Kharkov regional Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed as untrue her claim that prison personnel dragged her to the clinic using a bed sheet, with her legs and arms twisted, and beat her in the stomach, which caused her to temporary lose consciousness.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow expected the Ukrainian authorities to “take all necessary measures to fully observe Yulia Tymoshenko’s rights, to show humanity and find ways to adequately resolve the situation without making the domestic political situation more complicated.”
Tymoshenko said on Tuesday she has been on a hunger strike for four days in protest against what she described as a crackdown on the opposition by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. She said her move was designed to draw the world’s attention to what she called a “concentration camp” being creating by Yanukovych in the middle of Europe.