Ukraine ex-PM refuses treatment, returned to jail

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2012 1:29 PM
Ukraine ex-PM refuses treatment, returned to jail

KIEV (Reuters) - Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose jailing last year damaged the ex-Soviet republic's ties with the West, has been returned to a prison after refusing to be treated for back pain at a state-run hospital, her party said on Sunday.

The seven-year prison sentence handed down last October to Tymoshenko, a fierce opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich, has been condemned by the European Union as an example of selective justice.

The European Court for Human Rights, which is looking into her appeal against her conviction on abuse-of-office charges, has urged Kiev to ensure Tymoshenko receives proper medical treatment.

Tymoshenko, 51, who is now also on trial on graft charges, has suffered from back pain for months, her lawyers and family say, and has refused to attend the new hearings.

She was taken to an out-of-prison hospital late on Friday but refused to undergo a medical check there.

"First Tymoshenko was secretly taken to a hospital at night... (late on Friday) and then on Sunday she was suddenly returned to jail," her political party Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) said in a statement.

"It is absolutely clear that nobody had planned to treat the former prime minister and all of this was done only for negative publicity - to tell the whole country again that Tymoshenko refuses to get treated at the Kharkiv hospital."

Tymoshenko had previously said she did not trust any state-appointed doctors. The hospital in Kharkiv belongs to the state-owned railway company and is located in the same city as her prison.

Tymoshenko was convicted in October on charges of abusing her power as prime minister in brokering a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Yanukovich's government says the deal ran against national interests and made energy imports exorbitantly expensive.

In the new trial, she faces charges of tax evasion and attempted embezzlement which carry a sentence of up to 12 years.

Tymoshenko has denied any wrongdoing in both cases, dismissing them as part of a campaign of repression by Yanukovich's government.

The European Union has warned Ukraine that its members will not ratify key bilateral agreements on political association and free trade while Tymoshenko remains in prison.

She was one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution which doomed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency, and served twice as prime minister before losing the 2010 presidential vote to Yanukovich in a close race.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Heinrich)