EU 'deeply preoccupied' about Tymoshenko situation

Yulia Tymoshenko

BRUSSELS - The European Union voiced deep concern Thursday over the situation of Ukraine's jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on a hunger strike and reportedly suffered physical violence.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Ukrainian authorities to allow the EU ambassador to visit Tymoshenko in prison along with independent medical specialists "as a sign of their political will to clarify the situation."

Ashton "is deeply preoccupied by the situation of Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine," the chief EU diplomat's spokesman said in a statement.

The Ukrainian ombudsman's office confirmed that Tymoshenko was "subjected to physical violence" during the transfer from her cell to a hospital on April 20, the statement said.

Ashton "recalls the obligation of Ukraine to examine promptly and impartially any complaints of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," it said.

"The High Representative is seriously concerned by the decision of Ms Tymoshenko to begin a hunger strike to draw the attention of the international community to the situation in Ukraine."

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