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Russia, Poland Urge End To Call For Ukraine Boycott

  • RFE/RL

An end to calls for a boycott of Ukraine during Euro 2012 is one thing Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (right) and Russian President-elect Vladimir Purin can see eye to eye on.

An end to calls for a boycott of Ukraine during Euro 2012 is one thing Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (right) and Russian President-elect Vladimir Purin can see eye to eye on.

Russia and Poland have criticized calls in Western Europe to boycott Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine during the soccer championship over the treatment of jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said his country was sympathetic to concerns about the condition of Tymoshenko, who has complained of ill-treatment while serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of office.

But he suggested Tymoshenko herself would be reluctant to see years of preparations wasted by a European boycott.

Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin also indicated on May 3 that he opposed a boycott, saying that "under no circumstances should one mix politics...with sports."

Putin even offered to accept Tymoshenko for medical treatment, if Tymoshenko and Ukrainian authorities agreed.

"If Yulia Volodymyrovna thinks it's possible and if the Ukrainian government, our Ukrainian partners agree to it, we will be happy to accept Yulia Tymoshenko in Russia for medical treatment," Putin said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner on May 3 said that Tymoshenko was in immediate need of proper medical care, regardless of the location.

"I don't know, I'm not going to judge where that should take place, only that it should take place," Toner added.

Tymoshenko, 51, has also declared a hunger strike and has repeatedly refused medical treatment for severe back pain related to a herniated disk.

Tymoshenko supporters demonstrate near the court in Kharkiv last month.

Tymoshenko supporters demonstrate near the court in Kharkiv last month.

The European Union and the United States say they believe the pro-Western Tymoshenko's jailing last year was politically motivated, and have called for her release.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is a political rival of Tymoshenko, but government officials have denied allegations that Tymoshenko's case is politically motivated.

In Kyiv, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry on May 3 said a boycott of the sporting event would be a "destructive attempt" to politicize sport.

Calls For Boycott

Austrian and German officials have indicated they will skip all Ukraine matches over the Tymoshenko issue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, urged Ukrainian leaders on May 3 to allow Tymoshenko "proper treatment." She reiterated Berlin's offer for Tymoshenko to receive medical treatment in Germany.

Merkel said she had not yet decided whether to stay away from the matches to be held in Ukraine.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said on May 2 that no Austrian government official would attend any matches held in Ukraine during the tournament, which begins on June 8, due to the Tymoshenko situation.

EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have also signaled their concern about the fairness of Tymoshenko's trial and treatment.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and RIA Novosti

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