Don’t ‘Humiliate’ Us, Yanukovych Tells EU

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych, in apparent defiance of the European Union’s pressure over the treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, said Monday he will not allow Ukraine to be “humiliated.”

Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych.

“Ukraine is a young country; it is developing,” Yanukovych said while on a trip to Donetsk, his stronghold.

“When people make suggestions to us, we are grateful. But it is very important that they do not humiliate us. We don’t like that and we will not allow it.”

The comment comes after the warnings of EU leaders about the possible boycott of next month’s Euro 2012 soccer matches in Ukraine.

European Union commissioners have said they will not attend games in Ukraine, and several EU leaders are considering similar action in protest of Kiev’s treatment of Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko was convicted to seven years in prison in October for abuse of office, in a case that the EU and US describe as politically motivated.

Tymoshenko, 51, is now being treated in a Ukrainian hospital by a German doctor for a back problem and the effects of a 19-day hunger strike, which she started in response to alleged mistreatment by prison guards.

Ukraine denies that she has been in any way abused.

“Whoever wants to come to Ukraine, we would like to see you. Whoever has a reason not to come to Ukraine, that’s their personal business,” Yanukovych said.

“Although this is undoubtedly not very pleasant for us, to put it mildly.”

John Tefft, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Thomas Melia, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, visited Tymoshenko in the hospital on Monday.

“They conveyed messages of concern for her treatment from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” the U.S. embassy said in the statement after the visit.

“The U.S. Government continues to be deeply concerned by the treatment of Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conditions of her confinement.”

“We continue to urge the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that Mrs. Tymoshenko receives appropriate medical assistance.

“Moving her to the hospital for treatment by a specialist is a welcome first step in this direction.

In Brussels, some EU foreign ministers played down threats to boycott Euro 2012 games in Ukraine.

Matches will also be played in neighboring Poland.

“I fail to see that attendance or non-attendance at football games is the main instrument of EU foreign policy,” said Carl Bildt, foreign minister of Sweden, which will play in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The Netherlands will also play in Ukraine, and Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said he was “not talking about a boycott”, while his Luxembourg counterpart, Jean Asselborn, quipped that “it is possible to play good football without too many ministers in attendance.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal