Berlin doctors concerned for Tymoshenko | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.06.2012
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Berlin doctors concerned for Tymoshenko

Berlin doctors have described the conditions under which the Ukrainian opposition leader is recovering as difficult, but said her health has improved.

Julia Tymoshenko at a press conference in 2010

Julia Tymoshenko

The face of Annett Reisshauer darkened as she spoke of her experience as a doctor treating Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who's being held prisoner at Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. Tymoshenko's room on the 10th floor of a hospital in the city, though well equipped, has its windows sealed off from the outside world. The doctor was able to prevail in getting her a quarter of an hour of sunlight per day, albeit in a therapy room.

"But there, the window has been redesigned to prevent her from getting any glimpse of the landscape," said Reisshauer, who heads the rehabilitation unit of the Charite hospital in Berlin. She was one of a team of German doctors that has been treating Tymoshenko over the past several weeks.

Constant surveillance

The Berlin team described the conditions Tymoshenko are being held under as "oppressive." During the treatment, her doctors were able to cover the lenses of video cameras that are otherwise constantly aimed at her. Her room is also permanently guarded.

Karl Max Einhäupl, head of Charite, told DW how Tymoshenko continued to be concerned that there could be additional cameras. Naturally, the surveillance made it difficult for the doctors to provide confidential care to their high-profile patient.

'Less pain'

Despite the difficulties, the doctors reported some improvement since the start of treatment. "She has less pain, her mobility has increased, and she is able to spend more time out of bed," said Einhäupl. Yet he thinks it unlikely that she will be able to recover fully under the current conditions.

Since slipping a disc last October, Tymoshenko has been suffering from severe pain and restricted mobility. This spring she spent three weeks on a hunger strike to protest inadequate medical care.

Ukrainian officials eventually accepted offers of help from the German government and German doctors.

Deep distrust

Einhäupl at a press conference in Berlin, June 2012.

Einhäupl doubts Tymoshenko will fully recover under current conditions

Tymoshenko, 51, a former Ukrainian prime minister who was sentenced last year to seven years imprisonment on politically motivated charges, retains a deep distrust of Ukrainian state doctors. She refuses to even allow them to draw blood, fearing deliberate infection.

Einhäupl, who also reported that her medical records were shown on Ukrainian television in May, said that from a medical perspective, her distrust was well founded. She apparently is putting her confidence in the German doctors, also accepting medication they brought from Germany.

"Her sense of resignation has partially lifted, and her mood has improved," said Einhäupl.

He added that she had expressed the desire to be transferred to Kyiv to continue her sentence under house arrest - a move supported by the German doctors, who think this would give them better possibilities to treat her.

They intend to keep up their treatment, also during the European soccer championship which starts on Friday in Ukraine and Poland. Einhäupl added that the German doctors had appealed to Ukrainian officials, including former Interior Minister Juri Luzenko, for provision of appropriate medical care.

Author: Nina Werkhäuser / sad
Editor: Michael Lawton

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