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Party Official Says Tymoshenko's Life 'In Real Danger'

European leaders and international rights groups have condemned the cases against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko -- seen here through the window of her Kyiv prison on November 4 -- as politically motivated and urged her release.
A close ally of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says the Orange Revolution heroine's health is deteriorating.

Oleksandr Turchinov, vice chairman of Tymoshenko's political party Batkyvshchina (Motherland), said her life "is in real danger" and claimed she is being "tortured."

Turchinov said that Tymoshenko's lawyers in an open letter asked Doctors Without Borders (RSF), the Red Cross, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to intervene in her case. Turchinov said government prosecutors continue to question Tymoshenko while banning cell visits by a private doctor.

Tymoshenko's lawyers have said she suffers from severe back pains, is unable to walk without assistance, and is mostly bedridden.

Her daughter made a similar appeal in an interview last week with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, also saying she feared for her mother's life.

However, the State Penitentiary Service said on November 18 that there are no medical contraindications preventing her from talking to investigators on the prison grounds.

Tymoshenko last month was sentenced to seven years in jail for illegally approving a 2009 natural-gas import agreement with Russia while she was prime minister.

She says she is the victim of a government campaign to eliminate critics begun after her loss to Viktor Yanukovych in a presidential election in 2010.

Since her sentencing over the 2009 contract, Ukrainian authorities have charged Tymoshenko with other crimes, including theft and tax evasion, in connection with her leadership in the 1990s of gas trader United Energy Systems of Ukraine.

compiled from agency reports