Ukraine’s jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has declared a hunger strike in protest at what she calls vote-rigging in the parliamentary election, her lawyer told Ukrainian media on Monday.
Tymoshenko, whose seven year sentence over a 2009 gas deal with Russia was viewed by critics as politically motivated, condemned Sunday’s elections as being the most dishonest in the country’s history.
“The elections were rigged from the first till the last day, and concealing this means killing Ukraine’s future,” lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko quoted Tymoshenko as saying.
According to Vlasenko, the former prime minister is on hunger strike, and will only drink water.
In April Tymoshenko announced another hunger strike in protest against what she called cruel treatment in prison and held out for some 20 days.
Tymoshenko, the opposition heroine of Ukraine's 2004 pro-democracy “Orange Revolution,” said that had she been free, she would have called Ukrainians out onto the streets in new protests.
“But the only thing I can do under these circumstance is declare a hunger strike,” Tymoshenko said, adding that President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime had lost all legitimacy.
With 70 percent of the ballots counted, Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions, led by President Yanukovych, had secured just over 33 percent of the vote. The United Opposition, anchored by Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party, is second with 23 percent of the vote.
They are followed by the Communist Party (14.5 percent), the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), led by the world-famous boxer Vitaly Klitschko (13 percent) and the Svoboda (Freedom) nationalist party (some 9 percent).
Over 5,000 candidates campaigned for 450 seats in the country’s parliament, with half the deputies to be elected on party-list vote and half in single-mandate constituencies.