A court in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine has again postponed the tax-evasion trial of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Judge Konstyantyn Sadovskyy on November 13 adjourned the trial until November 23 because Tymoshenko, who is on a hunger strike, could not attend.
Tymoshenko, a bitter rival of President Viktor Yanukovych who lost to him in a close presidential election in 2010, is already serving a seven-year sentence over a separate abuse-of-power case.
She went on hunger strike on October 29 to protest alleged vote-rigging in Ukraine's parliamentary elections the day on October 28.
The State Penitentiary Service announced on November 9 that Tymoshenko had asked for permission not to appear at the November 13 hearing due to poor health.
It is the 10th time the trial has been postponed since April due to Tymoshenko’s health woes.
The trial focuses on allegations that Tymoshenko evaded millions of U.S. dollars in taxes in connection with a private energy company she headed during the 1990s. Western governments say the case appears to be politically motivated.
Tymoshenko's lawyer Andriy Kozhemyakin told journalists on November 13 that he was concerned after meeting her in the Kharkiv hospital where she is on hunger strike.
"You know, I have a very sad and grave impression from what we saw. You know, 16 days of the hunger strike, it wouldn't do any good to any person, especially not to a woman who has chosen this method to fight the present regime," Kozhemyakin said.
"That's why despite her combative mood she looks the way a person would be expected to look on the 16th day of a hunger strike. And to be honest I'm afraid -- and I told my colleagues about it already -- that, unfortunately, this could lead to any sort of consequences."
Opposition Vows To Fight On
Meanwhile, opposition parties are vowing to continue their fight against Yanukovych and say they will work to free Tymoshenko.
Addressing some 1,000 supporters outside the Central Election Commission on November 12 in Kyiv, United Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the opposition would seek the resignation of Yanukovych, Prime Minister Mikola Azarov, and other members of the government.
Yatsenyuk vowed to seek Tymoshenko's release and urged her to halt her hunger strike.
"Yulia, don't continue your hunger strike - only they want you to starve! We need you strong, alive and healthy. We have more great achievements ahead of us, and together with you we'll accomplish these deeds," Yatsenyuk told the crowd.
"And I ask, that we together call on Yulia Tymoshenko to stop the hunger strike, and demand that Yulia Tymoshenko be freed."
The protest came a day after the commission released final results from Ukraine's October 28 parliamentary elections.
Those results show the ruling party of Yanukovych and its allies retaining control in the 450-seat parliament.
At the same rally, the leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) party, Oleh Tyahnybok highlighted the opposition's unity.
"The very fact that three political forces have agreed to a joint start, definitely, I don't know what will happen later, but our Ukrainian opposition train has already set off toward a great Ukrainian victory, toward building a new government to the building of a new Ukraine -- not that Ukraine that was immersed in corruption and lies, not the Ukraine where falsifiers, traitors, and scoundrels rule, but a fair Ukraine," he told the opposition gathering.
The opposition includes Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), Tyahnybok's Freedom, and Udar (Punch), the liberal party of boxing champion Vitali Klitschko. Analysts say Klitschko and Tyahnybok have strained relations, throwing doubts on claims of opposition unity.
Earlier, the European Union said Ukraine's parliamentary elections were marred by a delayed vote count and other irregularities.
In a statement issued on November 12, EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele expressed "concern about the conduct of the post electoral process, which was marred by irregularities, delays in the vote count and lack of transparency in the electoral commissions."
The EU has also criticized the build-up to the election and the vote itself.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP