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Tymoshenko Supporters' Tents Dismantled In Eastern Ukraine

Yulia Tymoshenko supporters demonstrate near the labor camp where Ukrainian opposition leader held is imprisoned.
KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Tents used by people in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv rallying for jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko have been forcibly dismantled, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Activists of the Tymoshenko-led Fatherland party set up several tents on January 6 near the Kachaniv labor camp outside of Kharkiv where Tymoshenko is currently being held.

The head of Fatherland's local branch, Anatoliy Babichev, told RFE/RL on January 10 that several Kharkiv court officials told the protesters that according to a court decision on January 6 the tents cannot be set up near the labor camp and must be taken down.

When the activists refused to do so, several city sanitation workers dismantled the tents.

Kharkiv city council stated on its website on January 10 that the tents had been removed "legally and in accordance with the court decision."

The Fatherland activists in Kharkiv have now begun collecting signatures in support of nominating Tymoshenko for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tymoshenko, 51, was jailed in October for seven years for exceeding her authority in brokering a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She served as prime minister in 2005 and from 2007 to 2010.

Tymoshenko unsuccessfully ran for president against incumbent Viktor Yanukovych in 2010. She and her supporters say the case against her is politically motivated.

Tymoshenko's husband, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic last week.

He told RFE/RL in Prague on January 9 that he was forced to seek asylum because of authoritarian rule in Ukraine. He added that the Ukrainian authorities are seeking to "physically destroy" his wife.

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