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Yulia Tymoshenko has been jailed for seven years
Some 15 women activists were barred from wishing jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko a happy New Year at the labor camp in eastern Ukraine where she is being held.
The activists brought leaflets and flowers to the Kachaniv labor camp, outside of Kharkiv. But labor camp officials refused to take any gifts for Tymoshenko because, they said, more investigations of the ex-premier are pending and the investigators' approval is needed before the flowers, poems, and other gifts can be given to her.
January 13 was New Year's Eve according to the old Julian calendar used in Ukraine, Russia, and other Orthodox Christian subjects of the Russian empire until 1918.
The activists say their visit to the labor camp is not a protest but simply a visit to congratulate Tymoshenko on the holiday. They added that they will pass their gifts to Tymoshenko via parliament deputies who have a right to visit Tymoshenko at the labor camp.
Tymoshenko, 51, was taken without notice from her jail in Kyiv to the Kachaniv labor camp two weeks ago.
Tymoshenko 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 want to "physically destroy" his wife.

-- RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
Scores of Chornobyl veterans stages a sit-in protests in Donetsk late last year.
DONETSK, Ukraine -- Some 200 veterans of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster clean-up have rallied in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk to demand that they receive full pension payments, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The protesters gathered in front of the Donetsk Oblast Pension Fund offices.

Protest organizer and Chornobyl veteran Volodymyr Derkach told RFE/RL that the protesters have two demands.

The first is that all overdue pensions for veterans be paid in full in accordance with court rulings.

The second is for an extraordinary session of the Donetsk Oblast Council with Premier Mykola Azarov to be held in order to find out why some veterans receive full pensions and others get less.

The Ukrainian government decided in September to cut the pensions of Chornobyl clean-up workers and Afghan war veterans as well as elderly people who receive compensation for either having fought or worked as children during World War II.

The decision has triggered protests in Kyiv and in other cities across Ukraine. The Donetsk Chornobyl veterans protested from November 15 to December 11.

Retired miner Hennadiy Konoplyov, 70, died of a heart attack on November 27 in Donetsk while police forcibly removed a large tent used by Chornobyl veterans on a hunger strike.

The protesters in Donetsk agreed to end their protest on December 11 after the regional government promised to pay the veterans 1 million hryvnyas ($123,000) in unpaid pensions.

Donetsk is President Viktor Yanukovych's hometown.

Read more in Ukrainian here

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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