Kiev cancels summit over Tymoshenko row

May 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM
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KIEV, Ukraine, May 8 (UPI) -- Kiev announced Tuesday it was postponing a summit planned for Yalta because of European frustration over jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison term at a penal colony in Ukraine on charges she abused her authority when, as prime minister in 2009, she helped broker a natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom. She declared a hunger strike in late April to protest her prison conditions after complaining of abuse at the hands of prison officials.

European leaders have expressed their concern about the Tymoshenko case, suggesting they'd boycott the summit for Central and Eastern European leaders scheduled to start Friday in Yalta.

Oleksandr Dykusarov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, was quoted by the BBC as saying that "as a number of European heads of state cannot take part in the 18th summit of Central European states, Ukraine deems it necessary not to hold the summit on May 11-12 in Yalta."

Tymoshenko supporters allege her sentence was a political move. She lost a bitter bid for president in 2010 to Viktor Yanukovych.

Her daughter announced Tuesday the former prime minister was ready to end her hunger strike, the BBC reported. She'd move to a hospital Wednesday for treatment by a German doctor. Tymoshenko is allegedly suffering from chronic back pain.

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