The daughter of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says her mother is badly bruised
after prison guards forcibly took her to a clinic last week for treatment.
Yulia Tymoshenko is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of office, a charge widely seen as politically motivated. Yevhenia Tymoshenko, who visited her mother in prison on April 25, spoke to RFE/RL's Claire Bigg.
RFE/RL: Yulia Tymoshenko was allegedly beaten last week by prison guards while being transferred to a clinic for treatment. Along with her lawyer, you were the first person see her since the incident. Did you see any trace of violence on your mother?
She showed us her remaining bruises. She had many more as five days have passed now. They barred anyone from seeing her for four days; they were waiting for the bruises to disappear. She has a very large bruise on her abdomen, about 10 centimeters in diameter. She also has fingerprint bruises on her left arm.
RFE/RL: Prosecutors admit that prison staff forcefully took her to a hospital but deny she was beaten up. What is your mother's version of events?
In the evening, doctors came to see her. She refused [to follow them]. She said she would wait for her lawyers on Monday [April 23]. When the prison's deputy director came to see her later in the evening, he told her to pack her things. She refused. So he left and sent her cellmate away. He sent everyone out of the building where my mother is staying, and he brought in two prison employees.
All three of them started violently trying to carry her out. They threw themselves at her and wrapped her in a blanket. She fought back, and that is when the prison's deputy director hit her very hard in the stomach. She started screaming and calling for help. She then lost consciousness and woke up at the hospital.
RFE/RL: Your mother launched a hunger strike on April 20. Is she still refusing food?
Yes, she is continuing. Today is the sixth day in which she has taken only water. But she has not signed a special declaration about it, because according to the prison's rules, they can place her in isolation and forcibly feed her. This would pose a serious danger to her life.
RFE/RL: Do you support her hunger strike or have you, on the contrary, tried to dissuade her from continuing?
I'm against it. I've asked her to stop it because it profits those who hold her and want to destroy her.
RFE/RL: How is your mother feeling now? What is her psychological state?
She suffered from strong stress for a few days after this. She was scared because when they assaulted her she didn't know what they were going to do: take her away to kill her or to give her some kind of injection...she didn't know.
Now the stress has subsided, but of course I cannot really say that she's in a normal state. Nonetheless, she also sees that our friends in Europe and in the democratic world have reacted to this event, and this helps her a lot.
RFE/RL: What are your expectations now? Do you think your mother's circumstances will improve or worsen following this incident?
After such an incident I don't know what to expect, what the next wave of repression will be. Now, I'm even more afraid for her health and for her life, because I don't know how long she will have to stay on hunger strike. But she's strong; she's not the kind of person to give up.