Ukraine's Tymoshenko ends hunger strike

Doctor says jailed ex-PM to begin "normal nutrition regime" after 20-day fast amid growing diplomatic crisis.

    Ukraine's Tymoshenko ends hunger strike
    An ambulance transported Tymoshenko from her prison to a state hospital in Kharkiv [Reuters]

    Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's jailed former prime minister, has ended a 20-day hunger strike after being transferred from her prison to hospital, according to the German doctor treating her.

    She will begin drinking juice and be allowed to take solid food later, Lutz Harms was quoted by Russia's  Interfax news agency as saying on Wednesday.

    "She has halted her hunger strike. We are now building up towards a normal nutrition regime," Harms said on Wednesday in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

    Ukraine prisons service said Tymoshenko was moved early on Wednesday from a prison in Kharkiv to a state hospital run by Ukrainian railways, also in Kharkiv.

    "Tymoshenko was transferred from her penal colony to hospital for a course of treatment recommended by an international medical commission," the prisons service said.

    An AFP news agency correspondent saw a motorcade of four cars led by the Ukrainian traffic police entering the grounds of the hospital. Reporters had earlier been ordered to leave the hospital.

    The prisons service said that during her transfer, Tymoshenko made no complaint about her health. "According to doctors, the state of her health has not deteriorated in the last days," it said.

    Diplomatic crisis

    Tymoshenko’s transfer to hospital comes amid a growing diplomatic crisis over her treatment that threatens to overshadow Ukraine's co-hosting of the Euro 2012 football tournament which begins next month.

    Kharkiv is one of four Ukrainian cities that will next month jointly host the Euro football with Poland in the most prestigious event for Ukraine since it won independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Tymoshenko, President Viktor Yanukovych's bitter rival, was jailed for seven years in October following an abuse of power trial that was bitterly criticised by the US and European Union for its political overtones.

    Tymoshenko's 32-year-old daughter, Yevgenia, announced on Tuesday her mother had agreed to end a hunger strike and to be admitted to the Kharkiv hospital to be treated by Harms.

    Tymoshenko had previously demanded to be treated outside Ukraine, fearing that she could be deliberately infected or poisoned in a Ukrainian establishment.

    She is confirmed to be suffering from a herniated disc in her back but supporters say that even before her hunger strike, she was extremely frail and unable to walk.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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