Ukraine's Tymoshenko to leave jail for medical care

Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko looks out of her prison cell bars in Kiev, 4 November Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tymoshenko is in custody in Kiev

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has said imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will be allowed out of jail for medical treatment.

Tymoshenko, 50, is said to be suffering from serious health problems including severe back pain, in her cell at a prison in the capital, Kiev.

She was jailed last month for seven years for abuse of power.

Western governments criticised the sentence, which many believe was politically motivated.

Tymoshenko, a leader of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, lost to Mr Yanukovych in last year's presidential election.

She was jailed last month for seven years over a gas deal with Russia which she oversaw while prime minister in 2009.

Since then, she has been charged with new offences dating back to the 1990s, including tax evasion, theft and concealing foreign currency revenues.

She has accused President Yanukovych of orchestrating a conspiracy against her.

'Political neutralisation'

"I was informed that the system [of medical treatment in jail]... is not up to the required standards," Mr Yanukovych said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"So this treatment or medical services will have to be provided in medical institutions in Kiev, in the coming days, either today or tomorrow."

On Monday, Ukraine's human rights envoy, Nina Karpacheva, reported that Tymoshenko was so ill, she could not get out of bed.

She called for the former prime minister to be examined and treated outside the prison.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who met Mr Yanukovych on Tuesday on a visit to Kiev, said EU states had been "shocked by the decision taken by the court about the opposition leader".

"The dominant view in Europe is that Tymoshenko and her colleagues have been victims of a political neutralisation campaign," said the leader of Lithuania, an ex-Soviet Baltic state now part of the EU.

Before Tymoshenko's trial, Kiev had been hoping to conclude deals on association and free trade with the EU.

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