German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday urged Ukraine to allow jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko “proper treatment” for her ailments, reiterating that she could come to Germany for medical care.
Tymoshenko, 51, is on a hunger strike to protest alleged mistreatment in a Ukraine prison where she is serving a seven-year sentence on charges of abusing her powers when she was prime minister in a case the West has called politically motivated.
She claims guards punched her and twisted her arms and legs, while forcibly taking her to a hospital to be treated for debilitating back pain.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is a fierce rival of Tymoshenko, but government officials have denied any claims of bias in the case.
German doctors have examined Tymoshenko in Ukraine and say she is in urgent need of specialized care.
Merkel told the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper she had not yet decided whether to boycott Euro 2012 soccer games played in Ukraine to protest Tymoshenko’s treatment as others have announced, and that her priority now is the former leader’s health.
“Much more important than my travel plans is that we must now do everything possible to see that Yulia Tymoshenko gets the proper treatment for her medical problems as soon as possible,” Merkel was quoted as saying.
“The German government has been working on this for weeks and our offer stands for her to receive this medical treatment in Germany,” she said.
German President Joachim Gauck has already said he would boycott the Ukrainian games from June 8 to July 1. Ukraine is co-hosting the games with Poland.
In a visit yesterday to Lithuania, US Senator John McCain joined the chorus calling for Tymoshenko to receive urgent medical care. McCain also said the Ukrainian leadership could not expect closer relations with Europe while it persecutes political opponents and fails to hold free and fair elections.