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Lithuanian President Sees Tymoshenko, Blasts Kyiv

  • RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite meets with Yulia Tymoshenko in Kharkiv.

Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite meets with Yulia Tymoshenko in Kharkiv.

KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has visited former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at a hospital in Kharkiv.

After the meeting, Grybauskaite issued a statement acknowledging the situation was "complicated" but saying that the European Union's trust in Kyiv is evaporating.

She expressed optimism over the health of Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year prison term on abuse-of-office charges that critics say are politically motivated.

Tymoshenko "is in good condition, considering that she's now recovering from a 20-day hunger strike," Grybauskaite told journalists. "Her mood is positive and optimistic. She did not complain about anything. On the contrary, she is glad that doctors are finally taking proper care of her."

Grybauskaite said Tymoshenko had expressed concern over Ukraine's European Union prospects.

"Ukraine's European prospects and European integration are very important to her and she is calling on everybody, the government and the people, to remember that reforms are necessary and that Ukraine must take the path of European integration and should not be isolating itself," Grybauskaite said.

Growing Dispute

Tymoshenko was moved to the hospital on May 9 for treatment of back pain under the supervision of a German neurologist.

Grybauskaite is the first foreign leader to have been granted access to Tymoshenko since her October 2011 conviction.

Also on May 11, the Italian government asked Kyiv for permission for Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Marta Dassu to visit Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko's jailing has soured relations between Ukraine and the West.

Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of Ukraine's 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution and is a longtime opponent of current President Viktor Yanukovych, to whom she lost in a runoff in early 2010.

EU officials have criticized the Yanukovych government over concerns that Tymoshenko may have been unfairly convicted and later possibly mistreated in prison.

Several of them have threatened to boycott visits to Ukraine during next month's Euro 2012 soccer championship unless Tymoshenko's detention conditions improve.

Less Than Ideal

Later in the day, Grybauskaite met with Yanukovych.

Yanukovych has repeatedly said he believes Tymoshenko to have been fairly convicted and her incarceration human.

In comments made to reporters in Kyiv earlier on May 11, Yanukovych said he understood that less-than-ideal relations between Brussels and Kyiv would likely delay the former Soviet republic's goal of becoming an associate member of the trading bloc.

However, Yanukovych said the delay "will work to the advantage" of both Ukraine and the EU.

Ukrainian authorities began a second trial of Tymoshenko in early April for alleged tax fraud.

With additional reporting by Interfax and Delfi.it

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