Ukrainian Activists Barred From Greeting Jailed Tymoshenko On Orthodox New Year

KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Some 15 women activists were barred from wishing jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko a happy New Year at the labor camp in eastern Ukraine where she is being held.

Yulia Tymoshenko and husband Oleksandr Tymoshenko (L).

The activists brought leaflets and flowers to the Kachaniv labor camp, outside of Kharkiv.

But labor camp officials refused to take any gifts for Tymoshenko because, they said, more investigations of the ex-premier are pending and the investigators' approval is needed before the flowers, poems, and other gifts can be given to her.

January 13 was New Year's Eve according to the old Julian calendar used in Ukraine, Russia, and other Orthodox Christian subjects of the Russian empire until 1918.

The activists say their visit to the labor camp is not a protest but simply a visit to congratulate Tymoshenko on the holiday.

They added that they will pass their gifts to Tymoshenko via parliament deputies who have a right to visit Tymoshenko at the labor camp.

Tymoshenko, 51, was taken without notice from her jail in Kiev to the Kachaniv labor camp two weeks ago.

Tymoshenko was jailed in October for seven years for exceeding her authority in brokering a 2009 gas deal with Russia.

She served as prime minister in 2005 and from 2007 to 2010.

Tymoshenko unsuccessfully ran for president against incumbent Viktor Yanukovych in 2010.

She and her supporters say the case against her is politically motivated.

Tymoshenko's husband, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic last week.

He told RFE/RL in Prague on January 9 that he was forced to seek asylum because of authoritarian rule in Ukraine.

He added that the Ukrainian authorities want to "physically destroy" his wife.

Source: Radio Free Europe

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