Ex-PM May Get Medical Treatment Overseas

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian authorities are in talks with Western countries over the possibility for jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to get medical treatment overseas, Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of Batkivshchyna party, said.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Yatseniuk, the only opposition leader to attend a meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych at his administration, said he had pressed the president on the issue.

“I asked him repeatedly what will be done to release Tymoshenko and to allow her to get surgery overseas,” Yatseniuk said and provided Yanukovych’s response. 

“Quote/Unquote: ‘We are in the process of negotiations. We have submitted documents to our colleagues from the West. The issue of allowing Tymoshenko to get the treatment overseas is being discussed,’” Yatseniuk said, citing Yanukovych. 

The comment may signal a major turnaround in the position of the Ukrainian authorities who last year refused to let Tymoshenko go for medical treatment in Germany.

Instead, the authorities allowed Tymoshenko to see German doctors at a state-run Ukrainian hospital in Kharkiv where she is treated for back pain.

Allowing Tymoshenko to leave for the medical treatment overseas would most likely remove a major obstacle on the way of Ukraine signing a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union in November in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

Yanukovych on June 6 pressed the European Union to conclude the agreement with Ukraine this year but he gave no ground on a key EU demand of freeing jailed opponent Tymoshenko.

The 27-member bloc first wants more tangible proof of Ukraine's commitment to democratic reforms, including the release of Tymoshenko from a seven-year jail sentence.

The free-trade agreement potentially on offer from the EU would open up a huge market for Ukrainian exports - steel, grain, chemicals and food products - and provide a powerful spur for much-needed foreign investment.

Tymoshenko was sentenced in October 2011 for abuse of office linked to a 2009 gas deal she brokered with Russia.

The EU says her sentence smacks of political vengeance by Yanukovych and use of 'selective justice'.

As the clock ticks down towards the Vilnius summit, EU diplomats say pressure is growing on Yanukovych to review his hardline stance on Tymoshenko and bring about her release.

In April Yanukovych won rare praise from the West for freeing former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko - a Tymoshenko ally - from a four-year sentence for abuse of office.

Source: Ukrainian Journal