News / Europe

Ukraine Under Increasing Fire Over Jailed Ex-PM

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waves to supporters from a prison window in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 4, 2011.Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waves to supporters from a prison window in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 4, 2011.
x
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waves to supporters from a prison window in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 4, 2011.
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waves to supporters from a prison window in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 4, 2011.
MOSCOW - The government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has given the European Union permission to send specialists to assess the condition of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who says she was beaten by prison guards last month while being transferred to a hospital for treatment of a back condition.  Meanwhile, criticism in connection with Tymoshenko's incarceration is mounting in the West, with some European leaders threatening to boycott the Euro 2012 football championship in Kyiv next month.

Tymoshenko was convicted last year on charges of abusing power while in office -- charges she and her supporters, along with the EU and the United States, say were politically motivated.  

Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison, went on a hunger strike last month after accusing prison staff of beating her while she was being transferred to a hospital.  Ukrainian officials deny the charges.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov alluded to the controversy about Ms. Tymoshenko's treatment in a speech he gave to the European Parliament while visiting Brussels Wednesday.  He accused political opponents of "unscrupulously misinforming and deluding" European officials.

The EU has warned Kyiv it will not sign agreements on political association and a free-trade zone if Ms. Tymoshenko remains in prison.  Earlier this month, Ukraine's government was forced to postpone a Central and Eastern European summit in Yalta after European leaders threatened to boycott it. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said he will not attend the Euro 2012 football ((soccer)) championship in Kyiv next month and other European leaders could follow suit.

But some observers question whether such actions will have an impact on President Yanukovych's government.

Taras Kuzio of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, says there is no way the government will free Ms. Tymoshenko or other jailed opponents, such as former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko -- at least before Ukraine's parliamentary elections in October.

"The priority for them is to obtain a parliamentary majority, because they see that as a stepping stone to Yanukovych winning a second term in 2015.  So there will be no softening of the official position on these individuals who are incarcerated for political reasons, because the priority for Viktor Yanukovych is not European integration.  The priority for Viktor Yanukovych is a political and economic monopoly of power."

Olexiy Haran, a political science professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the Ukrainian capital, says the boycott of the summit in Yalta and the threatened boycott of the Euro 2012 football championship are important symbolically, but that further steps are needed.

"What I believe now is important are targeted sanctions, not against the country, and not even against Yanukovych at this point, but against some people in law enforcement bodies in Ukraine -- at least one or two -- in order to show what would be the result if the present course would continue," Haran said.

Haran says  Yanukovych does not want to be seen in the West as an illegitimate leader and, therefore, what he hears from officials at the NATO summit taking place in Chicago on Sunday and Monday will be "really important."

Speaking to VOA's Ukrainian service after visiting Yulia Tymoshenko in the hospital earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft said Washington continues to view her prosecution and the prosecution of other opposition leaders as politically motivated.  He also stressed the importance of conducting free and fair elections for parliament this coming October.  He noted that U.S. President Barack Obama raised these issues with Mr. Yanukovych when they met at a nuclear summit in Seoul earlier this year.   

Meanwhile, Yevgenia Tymoshenko, the jailed former prime minister's daughter, told a U.S. congressional panel in Washington,  the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, or U.S. Helsinki Commission, Thursday, via live video link from Kyiv, that she is "very afraid" for her mother’s life in the hospital.  She called on U.S. legislators to "keep the pressure on" Ukraine's government.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid