Ukraine Spars Over Tymoshenko's Health

KIEV, Ukraine -- A medical examination of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by Western doctors has shown she is suffering from a hernia for which she hasn't received the necessary treatment, her daughter and Western officials said.

Yulia Tymoshenko

The apparently inadequate handling of the opposition leader's medical condition, which may require surgery, threatens to widen the rift between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the West over her incarceration on abuse-of-office charges in October.

Ms. Tymoshenko, 51 years old, has accused the president of trying to eliminate her as a political force by having her jailed for seven years and not providing the medical treatment she needs, accusations he has denied.

The U.S. and the European Union have pressed Mr. Yanukovych to release his longtime political foe, calling the trial and conviction politically motivated.

He has refused, and investigators have instead piled on more criminal cases against her.

As a result, the EU has put on hold the planned signing of a political-association and free-trade agreement.

For months, Ms. Tymoshenko's supporters and family have said she has severe back pain that is preventing her walking or sleeping properly, and that she is only treated with painkillers.

Officials have insisted that Ms. Tymoshenko is receiving adequate treatment, and authorities last week allowed three Canadian and two German doctors to examine her.

In a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said the foreign doctors' diagnoses had confirmed that Ms. Tymoshenko didn't need surgery.

But Yevhenia Tymoshenko, the opposition leader's daughter, said she had been diagnosed with a hernia by the German doctors.

"If things continue in this way and she will not be given medical help that she hasn't received for the past six months then she will need an operation," she told Radio Liberty in an interview published Friday.

Yevhenia Tymoshenko added that officials were playing down her mother's condition in order to continue questioning her in other criminal cases against her.

"They appear to have ignored that she has in fact had a serious medical condition that they have failed to treat properly," said a senior Western official briefed on the results of the examination.

"This can only further damage their reputation and further complicate relations."

Source: The Wall Street Journal