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Kyiv Delays Regional Summit After Boycotts

  • RFE/RL

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in prison in Kharkiv, where she says she is being mistreated.

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in prison in Kharkiv, where she says she is being mistreated.

Ukraine has postponed a regional summit of Central and Eastern European leaders that it was due to host this week in the city of Yalta.

Oleksandr Dikusarov, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told journalists that the long-awaited political conference was being rescheduled.

"Due to the inability of some European state leaders to take part in the 18th Summit of the Central European Countries, for various reasons, Ukraine considers it sensible to delay the summit and not to hold it on May 11-12 in the city of Yalta," he said. "The event will take place later [and] the timing for it will be set via diplomatic channels."

The move comes after a number of leaders declined to attend the summit in protest at Kyiv's treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

The presidents of Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic had all pulled out of the summit.

Tymoshenko, who is serving an internationally criticized seven-year sentence for abuse of power, has been on a hunger strike since April 20 over her alleged mistreatment in prison.

The cancellation of the talks was yet another embarrassing setback for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, after several EU officials said they would boycott soccer matches played in Ukraine as part of the Euro 2012 championship.

Ukraine is co-hosting this summer’s event with Poland.

Tymoshenko 'Refuses' Hospital Visit

The authorities have refused to allow Tymoshenko to take up a treatment offer in Germany.

Reports on May 9 said Ukrainian prison authorities had transferred Tymoshenko to a hospital amid concerns about her health.

According to an official statement, Tymoshenko was moved from the prison in Kharkiv to a nearby hospital. The 51-year-old has complained of various health problems, including chronic back pain.

The statement said Tymoshenko was accompanied by a medical team, including German doctor Lutz Harms.

"[Once there] we can then start our therapy," Harms said. "The rest will become clear in the process of our work."

Oleksandr Platkhotnyuk, a lawyer for Tymoshenko, said that her hunger strike had resulted in "a significant drop in blood pressure and in her body temperature."

Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevhenia, told reporters in Kharkiv that her mother's hunger strike may end once she is admitted to a hospital.

"We will see tomorrow [May 9] if she is transferred to hospital and the doctor will commence treatment," she said.

"That [would mean] it is the doctor's intention to start taking her out of her hunger strike...[S]he needs to start treatment before her back pain goes and she could become disabled if treatment is not started very soon."

A number of U.S. and EU officials have raised serious concerns regarding the legality of Tymoshenko's seven-year prison sentence, which is seen as an act of political revenge by Yanukovych, who defeated her in the 2010 presidential election.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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