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EU 'Deeply Preoccupied' By Tymoshenko Situation


A member of the Ukrainian parliament looks at a giant placard on April 25 depicting former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko set by the opposition in the parliament's sitting hall.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, says she is "deeply preoccupied" by the situation of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tumoshenko, who is on a hunger strike and reportedly suffered physical violence in prison.

In a statement, Ashton urged Ukrainian authorities to allow the EU ambassador to visit Tymoshenko in prison along with independent medical specialists "as a sign of their political will to clarify the situation."

Tymoshenko, an opposition leader, was sentenced in October to seven years in prison for abuse of power. A new trial against her on charges of tax fraud allegedly committed during the 1990s began on April 19.

Tymoshenko's daughter said after visiting her mother in prison on April 25 that the former Orange Revolution heroine is badly bruised.

Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych said he has ordered the Prosecutor-General's Office to conduct an investigation into Tymoshenko's treatment.

Tymoshenko and her supporters say she is the victim of political persecution.

She launched a hunger strike on April 20, accusing prison guards of beating her.

Prison officials deny the accusations.

German President Joachim Gauck has canceled a planned visit to Ukraine next month amid concerns over Tymoshenko's incarceration and treatment.

Based on reporting by AFP, UNIAN, and Reuters