KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko reportedly needs surgery, though authorities in Ukraine are downplaying the significance of her health.
Ukrainian media reports Tymoshenko has a hernia, leaving her unable to walk without assistance.
Three Canadian physicians examined Tymoshenko on behalf of the Canadian government, noting her health "should remain the primary focus of all involved," Tymoshenko's Web site reported. Her daughter, Eugenia, said the former prime minister was mistreated while in custody and needs surgery for a hernia.
Her supporters said the Ukrainian Health Ministry, which recommended exercise rather than surgery as a treatment, is manipulating the results of examinations.
Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence after a conviction on charges she abused her authority in a 2009 natural gas deal with Russian energy company Gazprom. The pro-Kremlin government in Ukraine says the deal hurt an economy already battered by recession, though her Western allies believe the charges are politically motivated.
Gunteher Verheugen, former European Commissioner for Enlargement, was quoted by Tymoshenko's Web site as saying Ukraine risks isolation over the Tymoshenko case.