Two high-profile EU representatives arrived in Kiev on Monday to observe the legal proceedings against jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Former European Parliament President Pat Cox and former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski will be monitoring legal proceedings against Tymoshenko, who has been sentenced to seven years for abuse of office and also faces a number of other charges.
The West has condemned the prosecution of Tymoshenko, the country's top opposition leader, as politically motivated and has called for her release. Senior EU officials are boycotting European Championship soccer matches hosted by Ukraine to protest the case. Tymoshenko says President Viktor Yanukovych, her longtime foe, threw her in jail to bar her from the parliamentary election in October.
Cox and Kwasniewski were expected to meet Yanukovych and other top officials Monday. They also hope to visit Tymoshenko, who is being treated for a spinal condition in a hospital, and attend an appeal hearing in her case in late June.
Tymoshenko's supporters hope the visit by the EU envoys will pressure Ukrainian leaders into finding a compromise in the case.
"The aim of this mission is very clear: it's to restore justice," Tymoshenko's daughter Eugenia said Monday.
A group of Tymoshenko supporters attempted to hold a rally outside the Olympic stadium in Kiev on Monday evening as fans were gathering to watch the Sweden vs. Ukraine soccer match, but the protesters were blocked by riot police, her party said in a statement.