Ukraine Jail Video Sparks Protest

KIEV, Ukraine -- A political storm broke out in Ukraine today over a video showing jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko angrily protesting over being filmed against her will while lying in her prison bed.

The video clip on YouTube which spread like wildfire round social networking sites after being aired on a Ukrainian TV channel, showed the former prime minister waving her arms in anger at a man in a room in the prison's medical wing.

Serhiy Vlasenko, Tymoshenko's defence counsel, denounced the filming as the work of "animals".

The video clip was one of two aired on TV with the apparent aim of showing Tymoshenko was being well treated and living in conditions akin to those of a good hotel.

The case of Tymoshenko, a charismatic politician who was sentenced last October for seven years jail for abuse of office, has caused a crisis in Ukraine's relations with the West.

Her family and defence counsel say her health in prison is deteriorating and she is suffering skin problems and serious back pain requiring treatment and physiotherapy.

In the video, prison guards are actively helping the cameraman to shoot the film, even holding back a keyhole cover into the room for him.

The 51-year-old Tymoshenko, who was mostly covered by bed-clothes, was clearly unhappy at being filmed, though her words were not audible.

In another part of the footage, which showed a well-furnished room with a refrigerator, Tymoshenko can be heard saying: "I was being kept before in unacceptable conditions and I don't want you to show this false picture now."

"The difference between humans and animals is in morality," Mr Vlasenko told reporters outside Kiev's Lukyanivska prison.

"I am sure that the name of the animal in shoulder-flashes, the state security service colonel who broke the law will be soon known to the whole Ukrainian people. Such animals must be known," he said.

Tymoshenko denies any wrong doing and has filed an appeal.

The EU, which has condemned Tymoshenko's trial as politically motivated, is engaged in last-minute diplomacy to try to save a December 19th summit which had been expected to lay the ground for a new strategic relationship with Ukraine.

But there are increasing signs now that key agreements on political association and creation of a free trade zone may not be signed now.

President Viktor Yanukovich, whom Tymoshenko has accused of pursuing a vendetta against her, said today he still hoped agreements would be signed next Monday, but he acknowledged the outcome was threatened by the Tymoshenko affair.

"One of the issues still on the agenda is the very acute question of former prime minister Tymoshenko," he said in a comment to a visiting head of state.

The State Security Service (SBU) denied today it had any part in filming the video.

The State Penitentiary Service said it did not know where it had come from either.

"We do not know who filmed this video and we decline to comment," said Ihor Andrushko, an adviser to the head of the prison service.

Source: Irish Times


Anonymous said…
Calling the guards who allowed this filming animals is an insult to all true animals. This is disgusting, but what can you expect from a president who is apparently on a mission to establish himself as a Soviet-style dictator? Ukraine as a democracy has apparently been consigned to the dustbin of history...