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The town of Yalta.
Image: picture-alliance/Bildagentur Huber

Tymoshenko row holds up summit

May 8, 2012

After a number of officials withdrew from a summit of Central and Eastern European leaders over Ukraine's treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine has postponed the conference.


Ukraine postponed a summit of Central and Eastern European leaders on Tuesday that was supposed to take place this week in Yalta due to a number of invited participants who wouldn't be attending.

At least ten EU leaders said they would not be coming. They cited Ukraine's treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as the reason.

"In connection with the fact that a number of European leaders are unable to take part in the Yalta summit for different reasons, Ukraine has decided to postpone it to a later date," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "It will be held at a later date to be decided through diplomatic channels."

Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years in October after being convicted of abuse of power while she was Ukraine's prime minister. Many Western nations believe the conviction was politically motivated, and Tymoshenko claims she has been beaten by guards on the way to a medical appointment, prompting a hunger strike that began on April 20.

The 2004 Orange Revolution leader has been complaining of back problems of late and refuses to be treated by Ukrainian doctors. Last week she agreed to be moved to a hospital to receive treatment from a German doctor who has been flown in to treat her.

A meeting between Tymoshenko and Lutz Harms from Berlin's Charite hospital was supposed to take place on Tuesday, but Tymoshenko refused and asked to speak with her lawyer first instead.

The controversy surrounding Tymoshenko and now the postponement of the Yalta summit has cast Ukraine in a bad light as it prepares to co-host the Euro 2012 soccer tournament with Poland. The European Commission announced a boycott by all of its commissioners of games played in Ukraine. A number of other EU officials have threatened to do the same.

mz/sej (AFP, dpa, AP)

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