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EU 'Concerned' About Mysterious Tymoshenko Health Reports


Yulia Tymoshenko inside the court hearing room with her husband, Oleksandr, in Kyiv on August 11.
The European Union has expressed concern about reports that jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko may be ill and called on Kyiv to provide her with adequate and independent medical care.

EU foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann made the statement to reporters in Brussels, a day after Tymoshenko took ill in court and asked to be examined by her personal physician.

"We are concerned also by the reports that [Tymoshenko's] health has deteriorated, and we urge the Ukrainian authorities to ensure a timely and independent medical examination and professional medical care as appropriate," Mann said. "And such a response would also allow the situation to be clarified, which would also be in the interest of the court."

Speaking to RFE/RL following the briefing, Mann said the EU has renewed a request it made on August 5 that an EU representative be allowed to visit Tymoshenko in jail and is stepping up its appeals to Kyiv.

"We've had a lot of discussions with them," he said. "Obviously, the result so far is that we haven't been able to visit Mrs. Tymoshenko in prison. And we are still concerned about what is going on there and hopefully they will accede to our wishes."

Mann also told RFE/RL the situation is not conducive to the ongoing free-trade negotiations between Ukraine and the EU, talks that are expected to be concluded this year.

"This isn't a very happy situation," Mann said. "It doesn't help matters and we are very concerned. If you are a country that wants to get close relations with the European Union, you have to apply standards that are commensurate with that -- in other words, proper standards of justice.

"So, we are concerned, but that doesn't take away from the fact that we hope this can be sorted out and that we can hope to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year."

Unexplained Bruises

Tymoshenko's trial on abuse-of-power charges was postponed until August 22 after she complained in court on August 18 of health problems and requested an independent medical examination, including blood tests.

Correspondents say Tymoshenko appeared tired in court and went pale shortly before she asked for a recess.

Defense lawyer Yuriy Sukhov told journalists the original request for an independent examination was made on August 16 after she developed what aides described as unexplained bruises and other symptoms.

"Yulia Volodymyrivna [Tymoshenko], who is being held illegally, has developed intensifying external and internal symptoms indicative of a worsening state of health." fellow defense lawyer Mykola Siryi said in court. "You can see the symptoms with your eyes. The matter of access to her physician must be settled immediately."

Oleksandr Turchynov, deputy chairman of Tymoshenko's opposition Fatherland party, published on his Twitter account: "Tymoshenko's life is in danger. Bruises from broken blood vessels have appeared all over her body. There is no decision on our motion for a blood test."

Wasting The Court's Time

In court on August 18, Judge Rodion Kireyev said the question of medical care must be decided by the administration of the detention center where she is being held. Defense lawyers responded by saying the jail administration refused to make a determination without an order from the court. Kireyev criticized the defense for wasting the court's time.

"The court has established the procedure for settling motions,' the judge said. "Now, again, the defense is turning this trial into a list of its declarations. What is more, these declarations don't contain any motions or anything of substance. In a court hearing, the judge can only call for an ambulance in the event of someone becoming ill."

The prosecutor asked the court to send "Health Ministry specialists" to examine Tymoshenko.

The court also rejected a repeated defense motion that Tymoshenko be released on bond.

Tymoshenko's health complaints come one day after former President Victor Yushchenko, her former political ally in the days of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, testified against her.

Tymoshenko is charged over a 2009 deal she signed with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that raised the price Ukraine paid for its gas.

She faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted on charges she says are politically motivated.

based on reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, correspondent Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels, and agency reports
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