Preliminary hearings have begun in former Ukrainian Premier Yulia Tymoshenko's appeal of her seven-year jail sentence.
Tymoshenko was found guilty of abuse of office in October in a trial that the West has condemned as politically motivated. She charges that her archenemy, President Viktor Yanukovych, has ordered her imprisoned to bar her from elections.
Tymoshenko did not appear in court Thursday due to ill health, according to her office. She is suffering from a back problem, which she says authorities are refusing to let her properly diagnose and treat.
Tymoshenko maintains her innocence on charges that she overstepped her authority when negotiating a gas import contract with Russia in 2009.
Yanukovych denies involvement in her case and is resisting Western pressure to release her.