Tymoshenko’s fast enters 12th day, family worried

The family of Yulia Tymoshenko voiced fears over her health as ex-premier extended her hunger strike into a 12th day.

Kiev: The family of Yulia Tymoshenko voiced fears over her health on Tuesday as the jailed ex-premier extended her hunger strike into a 12th day and Kiev faced a boycott of its Euro 2012 football games in June.

The fiery opposition leader`s daughter Yevgenia Tymoshenko said the authorities were barring her from visiting her mother in prison on account of the May Day holidays and urged Ukrainians to call their leaders to account.

"Mum has been fasting for 12 days. We are very worried about her health," Yevgenia said in a statement published on her mother`s website.

"It is the holidays now, we are not being allowed to see her and we have no idea what might happen in the meantime. We are extremely concerned."

The former 2004 Orange Revolution leader began fasting to protest an alleged beating she received by three prison guards. Her supporters later released pictures of bruises on Tymoshenko`s abdomen that they said backed those claims.

Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years in October in a highly controversial case that damaged Ukraine`s relations with the European Union and prompted a chorus of calls for President Viktor Yanukovych to release his political rival.

But the authorities have since opened new hearings against her relating to tax charges dating back to the 1990s that could extend her stay in jail until 2023.

European concern intensified yesterday when the office of European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said he had "no intention" of travelling to Ukraine when it begins co-hosting the football tournament with Poland on June 8.

At least five European presidents simultaneously declined invitations to attend a May 11-12 summit in the Black Sea resort of Yalta and signalled their plans to also miss the Euro event.

European football authorities at UEFA admitted today that they had been facing growing calls to move the event from Ukraine because of the growing political scandal.

But the governing body`s Ukrainian representative said a UEFA meeting in the Swiss city of Nyon held yesterday decided to neither move nor postpone the event.

"Yes, there are certain appeals from European politicians being made to UEFA and certain statements appearing in the media," Markiyan Lyubkivskiy said in a statement posted on the Ukrainian organising committee`s website.

Moving or postponing the event "is impossible from the technical or any other standpoint."

Yanukovych himself has stayed silent on the boycott and has thus far issued no public statement on Tymoshenko`s hunger strike.


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