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Tymoshenko Ends Hunger Strike After Move To Hospital


An ambulance transporting Yulia Tymoshenko arrives at the hospital in Kharkiv on May 9.
An ambulance transporting Yulia Tymoshenko arrives at the hospital in Kharkiv on May 9.
A German specialist who traveled to Ukraine to treat Yulia Tymoshenko says the jailed former prime minister has halted her hunger strike after nearly three weeks.

Neurologist Lutz Harms said Tymoshenko's recovery following her abstention from food could last up to one month.

"I carried out a thorough examination today, which bears out what my colleagues thought after the previous examination, and so we can now start complex, multidimensional therapy," he said. "But this will take some time."

Ukrainian prison authorities transferred the former Orange Revolution heroine to a hospital earlier on May 9 amid concerns about her health.

She is in Kharkiv to serve a seven-year sentence on abuse-of-office charges.

Tymoshenko's "transfer was conducted in an orderly fashion, in accordance with our agreement with the international medical commission, under the supervision of a German doctor, professor Harms," Ukrainian Deputy Health Minister Rayisa Moiseyenko told journalists earlier in the day.

Tymoshenko, 51, launched the hunger strike on April 20 and has refused treatment from doctors employed by the Ukrainian penal system. She has complained of severe back pain since her trial and conviction in October 2011.

According to an official prison-service statement, Tymoshenko was moved from the prison to a nearby hospital in Kharkiv run by the Ukrainian railway system.

The statement said Tymoshenko was accompanied by a medical team, including Harms. It added that Tymoshenko's health "has not deteriorated in recent days."

'Bad Practice'

Tymoshenko's supporters say her prosecution and jailing are part of a politically motivated persecution of herself and other former members of her cabinet orchestrated by the government of her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych.

Further charges are pending for alleged tax fraud in a case that began in early April.

German doctor Lutz Harms outside the hospital in Kharkiv
German doctor Lutz Harms outside the hospital in Kharkiv
Tymoshenko's case has drawn heavy criticism from Western governments and rights groups.

In the latest example, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski urged Ukraine to scrap what he called "outdated" laws that allow for the prosecution of politicians for decisions made in office.

"I appeal [to the Ukrainian authorities], with concern for upholding Ukraine's European chances, to eliminate these regulations from Ukrainian law and this bad practice from Ukrainian political life as soon as possible," he said.

But Komorovski also said he opposed plans by some senior European officials to boycott Ukraine's half of next month's Euro 2012 soccer championship over concerns about the case.

Poland is co-hosting the tournament with Ukraine, and Komorowski said, "Political battles should not ruin our joint Polish-Ukrainian celebration of sports and a Polish-Ukrainian project that was meant to and should still help Ukraine on its path toward European integration."

Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevhenia, told reporters in Kharkiv on May 8 that her mother's hunger strike would end once she was transferred to a hospital.

"We will see [on May 9] if she is transferred to hospital and the doctor will commence treatment," she said. "That means it is the doctor's intention to start taking her out of her hunger strike. It is imminent because she needs to start treatment before her back pain goes and she can become disabled if treatment is not started very soon."

Tymoshenko supporters in Kharkiv on May 8
Tymoshenko supporters in Kharkiv on May 8
Diplomatic Effect

On May 8, Ukraine postponed a summit of Central and Eastern European leaders scheduled for May 11-12 in Yalta after the presidents of eight countries canceled their attendance in protest against Tymoshenko's treatment.

In addition, a growing number of European leaders have vowed to boycott the Euro 2012 events in Ukraine. Kharkiv is one of four Ukrainian cities hosting matches.

The European Union has also postponed finalizing an association agreement with Ukraine because of concerns about the Tymoshenko case.

That agreement, which sets out terms for deeper political and economic integration between the bloc and Ukraine, was expected to be finalized at the end of last year.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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