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Officials defend Tymoshenko prison move

Jan. 5, 2012 at 8:13 PM

KHARKOV, Ukraine, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The transfer of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from a Kiev penitentiary to one in Kharkov was lawful, prison officials said Thursday.

Tymoshenko's daughter and defense lawyer, Eugenia Tymoshenko, called the move from the detention center to the penal colony "absolutely outrageous and illegal," ITAR-Tass reported Tuesday. Eugenia said she was not informed of the move at the time.

Prison officials cited Ukraine's penal code, saying people sentenced to prison are sent to serve their term no later than 10 days after a sentence goes into effect, Interfax reported Thursday.

"Thus, Tymoshenko's transfer from Kiev detention center to the penal colony on Dec. 30, 2011, was made in compliance with the current legislation within the statutory period," prison officials said in a statement.

Several hundred supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko organized a picket outside the Kharkov penitentiary, carrying national flags, symbols of her party and signage, despite a court ban, ITAR-Tass said.

Defense counsel Serhiy Vlasenko said the former prime minister's health has deteriorated in prison.

"Despite the bravura statements by the Health Ministry, she cannot move unaided, so it is difficult for me to judge what they mean by satisfactory health condition. Probably, the main task of the Health Ministry's medical commission is to misinform the international community about the health condition of Yulia Tymoshenko," he said outside the prison Thursday.

Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison Oct. 11 for abuse of office in the 2009 signing of Russian gas contracts. She was also fined $200 million.

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