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Tymoshenko Refuses To End Hunger Strike

Yulia Tymoshenko in a Kyiv courtroom in October 2011
Yulia Tymoshenko in a Kyiv courtroom in October 2011
Imprisoned former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has vowed to continue her hunger strike despite recommendations from doctors that she needed to start eating again.

Leaders from Tymoshenko's Batkivshchina (Fatherland) political party paid a short visit to Tymoshenko at the hospital where she has been treated for severe back pain since June.

One of those leaders, Oleksandr Turchynov, said when leaving the hospital that neither they nor the doctors could convince Tymoshenko to end the hunger strike.

"Of course, we asked Yulia Volodymyrivna [Tymoshenko] to stop the hunger strike because her health is important for the [Batkyvshchina] party and I think for the whole Ukraine," Turchynov said, "but the situation in many constituencies and information about how openly and cynically the results of the people's vote are being falsified enrage her, of course.

"The only thing she can do against it in this situation is to declare a hunger strike. That's why we couldn't convince Yulia Volodymyrivna to stop it and she will continue until Ukrainian society gives a clear assessment of what is happening now in many constituencies and regions."

Tymoshenko announced the hunger strike on October 29 to protest what she said was vote-rigging during the October 28 parliamentary elections.

With nearly all the votes counted from that poll, Tymoshenko's party is running in second place with about 25.5 percent of the votes behind the Party of Regions, led by Tymoshenko's political rival, President Viktor Yanukovych, which has just over 30 percent.

OSCE observers and the United States have criticized the October 28 vote as a step “backward,” citing Tymoshenko’s imprisonment and the misuse of government resources to support ruling party candidates.

Tymoshenko was convicted in October 2011 of abuse of office during her time as prime minister and sentenced to seven years in prison.

She and her supporters say the charges were politically motivated and calls her imprisonment revenge on the part of Yanukovych.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax
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