U.S. Expresses Concern Over Tymoshenko's Health

KIEV, Ukraine -- A senior U.S. official said Monday that reports of the ill health of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are "of great concern," increasing pressure on Ukraine in a case that has already frayed once-close ties.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The U.S. and the European Union have criticized the jailing of the opposition leader on abuse-of-office charges in October as selective justice, and urged President Viktor Yanukovych to find a way to release her.

But he has refused, and law-enforcement bodies have opened a string of new cases against her.

Ms. Tymoshenko was transported in December to a prison camp some 300 miles from the capital Kiev.

The defiance of Mr. Yanukovych over the prosecutions of his bitter rival and around a dozen of her allies has already hobbled Ukraine's negotiations with the EU on a free-trade and political-association agreement.

On a visit to Kiev on Monday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon called on authorities to allay concerns about Ms. Tymoshenko's health.

Her supporters say she is receiving inadequate care for a back problem that causes her constant pain and prevents her from standing.

They say Mr. Yanukovych is trying to settle a score with his sharpest political opponent, who thwarted his first run for the presidency in 2004 by marshalling the Orange Revolution street protests.

Mr. Gordon told a small group of reporters that there are "real questions" as to whether Ms. Tymoshenko is receiving appropriate care that "haven't been answered yet," as U.S. officials haven't been given access to her.

"We've gotten some negative reports about her health, her conditions and her access to medical care. We can't independently verify them, but they are of great concern to us," he said.

Prison officials in Kiev say Ms. Tymoshenko's condition is satisfactory and that she refused a medical examination on Jan. 17.

Mr. Yanukovych signaled Saturday after a meeting in Germany with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he may be prepared to allow a group of German and Canadian doctors to examine Ms. Tymoshenko.

Source: The Wall Street Journal