Tymoshenko's health 'failing'
28/04/2012 - 11:49:35
Yulia Tymoshenko, the braided darling of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution who went on to be prime minister, is wasting away in prison – weakened from a hunger strike, bruised from prison beatings and afraid she will be force-fed by her political foes, her family said.
Western concern about Tymoshenko has soared since she launched a hunger strike a week ago to protest against alleged prison abuse. She claims that guards punched her in the stomach and twisted her arms and legs while forcibly taking her to a hospital to be treated for debilitating back pain.
The opposition leader’s party claimed that a string of bombings on Friday that injured dozens in eastern Ukraine and that authorities blamed on terrorists may have been orchestrated by the government to deflect attention from her plight.
It is a dramatic reversal for a woman who became a global icon of democratic change during Ukraine’s 2004 rallies against a stolen presidential election, in which she mesmerised the nation with ringing speeches from a frozen Kiev square as thousands of protesters huddled in a tent village.
Tymoshenko appears pallid and worn out in photos of her lying in prison taken by Ukraine’s top human rights official – a shadow of the glamorous figure who once faced crowds in haute-couture gowns and golden braids. The pictures by Nina Karpachova show blotches on Tymoshenko’s abdomen and lower arm.
Her daughter said yesterday that her health was failing rapidly.
“She was in intense pain,” Eugenia Tymoshenko said. “She is very weak, she hasn’t eaten for seven days, only drinking water.”
Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges of abusing her powers in a Russian energy deal. The West has strongly condemned the verdict as politically motivated and threatened to freeze cooperation with Ukraine.
She faces separate charges of evading tens of million hryvna (several million euro) while heading an energy company in the mid-1990s. A court appearance in that case is scheduled for today; her daughter wasn’t sure if her mother would be forced to appear.
Oleksandr Tymoshenko, the jailed opposition leader’s husband, speaking in the Czech capital, Prague – where he has been granted asylum – that he believes the Ukrainian government is slowly killing his wife.
“Everything that has been happening to Yulia Tymoshenko is a rehearsal of her physical destruction – a murder that the authorities have been planning to carry out since the beginning of repression against her.”
Four explosions rocked the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk on Friday, injuring 27 people, including nine teenagers. The government blamed terrorism – but the Tymoshenko camp suspects a government-orchestrated diversion tactic.
Deputy parliament speaker Mykola Tymenko, a member of Tymoshenko’s party, said he “does not rule out” that senior government members in president Viktor Yanukovych’s government were involved in organising the blasts.
The president’s office declined to comment on the opposition charges.
Tymoshenko denies the abuse of power charges, saying they are part of a campaign by president Yanukovych, her long-time foe, to bar her from politics. Yanukovych, who narrowly defeated her in the 2010 presidential race, has denied involvement in the Tymoshenko case.
more stories like this:
- once per day, no spam.