[QODLink]
Europe
Jailed Ukraine politician feted by supporters
Birthday concert staged for ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko at the gates of Kiev's Lukyanivska prison.
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2011 18:10
Tymoshenko's supporters in front of the prison where she is being held after being sentenced to seven years [Reuters]

Ukrainian singers have staged a birthday concert for Yulia Tymoshenko, the opposition leader, at the gates of the Kiev prison where she is being held,

More than 3,000 of her supporters chanted messages of solidarity as the crowd heaped flowers and nailed up hand-written greetings messages on heart-shaped cards outside the jail on Sunday to mark her 51st birthday.

Many, bearing flags with the slogan "We will overcome!", chanted her name.

Tymoshenko, who was twice prime minister, has been held at the Lukyanivska detention centre in Kiev since she was jailed this summer for seven years for abuse of office.

She and her supporters say the case is a political vendetta against her by President Viktor Yanukovich, who narrowly beat her in a bitterly fought run-off for the job in February 2010.

The affair has derailed Ukraine's plans for closer ties with the European Union. The 27-member bloc says the trial was politically motivated and has called on Yanukovich to secure Tymoshenko’s release.

But he has refused to intervene and prosecutors are pressing ahead with investigations into a variety of fresh criminal charges against her.

"Yanukovich locked her up on purpose because he knows that she is worse than a nuclear war for him. If she gets out, he will not be president much longer," Viktor Redzhuk, a pensioner from the town of Zhitomyr, said.

Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevhenia, said outside the prison: "For me it's obviously not a celebration. Of course it's a holiday, because my mom was born, but for me it's a sad day, because she is in prison."

Police made no attempt to intervene or to disperse the crowd. Supporters joined in when popular singer Nina Matvienko, one of several performers who Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party said would appear during the day, sang a Ukrainian folk song.

There was no sign of Tymoshenko at any of the windows of Luk'yanivska prison, a long, rose-coloured building set back from the road, and there was no way of knowing whether she could hear the crowds outside.

Supporters fear her health is declining and there have been reports that she is suffering from a recurring back problem.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.