Berlin weighs stance on Tymoshenko

May 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM   |   Comments

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BERLIN, May 7 (UPI) -- The German chancellor said she'd wait to the last minute to decide whether or not to travel to Ukraine amid controversy over a jailed former prime minister.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko started a hunger strike last month to protest her treatment in prison and the political situation in her country. Several of her allies are behind bars and the leader of the country's Orange Revolution claims she was abused by prison authorities.

Tymoshenko is serving a 7-year prison sentence on charges she abused her authority in a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom. Her backers claim the charges against her are politically motivated. She lost a bitter presidential race in 2010 to Viktor Yanukovych.

Poland and Ukraine co-host the final tournament for the European Football Championship beginning in June. Warsaw said it felt dialogue was the best way to address Tymoshenko concerns, though German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering a formal boycott, German news service Der Spiegel reports.

German President Joachim Gauck announced plans to boycott a mid-May summit in Ukraine and members of the European Union said they'd boycott the soccer tournament so long as Tymoshenko remains behind bars.

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