Former Ukranian PM Yulia Tymoshenko goes on hunger strike

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yulia Tymoshenko at a 2007 summit.

Reports are emerging that Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine who in currently in prison at Kharkiv, has been on hunger strike since Friday. According to her lawyer, she is protesting against "what is happening in the country and what is happening to her in prison."

It was further reported that she has been punched in the stomach by prison guards, and has received bruises on her arms and stomach from being manhandled several times between prison and hospital. The Kharkiv regional prosecutor, Henadiy Tyurin, confirmed that "According to the law... the prison service has the right to use physical measures: she was picked up, carried to the car and taken to the hospital."

Tymoshenko has been sentenced to seven years and has been imprisoned since last October on charges of abuse of office relating to her time as Prime Minister. Other charges of embezzlement and tax evasion are pending which could push the sentence to a further twelve years.

US President Bush with PM Tymoshenko in 2008

Tymoshenko denies the charges and believes they are are part of a campaign by President Viktor Yanukovych to bar her from politics. She was narrowly defeated by Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential elections.

Officials from the United States and European Union have described the prosecution of Tymoshenko as selective and politically motivated. A statement from the White House urged Ukraine to release Tymoshenko and other Ukrainian politicians. Ukraine has been informed by the European Union that pending bilateral agreements will not be ratified while Tymoshenko remains in prison.