US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urged Ukraine this week to resolve the case of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as soon as possible. Tymoshenko’s daughter Eugenia testified last week before the US Senate subcommittee that her mother is ill and being tortured in prison. Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of power, in connection to an unfavorable gas sale contract with Russia in 2009. The contract damaged the Ukrainian state budget by US$180 million prosecutors said, but Tymoshenko did not personally gain from the contract.
Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych met in Munich last week with Clinton and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Yanukovych addressed the Tymoshenko case both in relation to the controversial gas contracts with Russia, as well as in the light of Ukraine’s integration into the European Union.
At a meeting of the European Parliament council in Vienna in January, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Ian Kelly, urged Ukraine to allow for an independent medical examination of Tymoshenko. At a press conference following the meeting with Clinton and Kissinger, Yanukovych said that Kyiv will welcome foreign doctors, as long as Tymoshenko stays in the country. Germany and Canada have offered to send medical staff to examine Tymoshenko.
Eugenia Tymoshenko told the Senate that her mother is unable to stand and walk without help, and that the Ukrainian authorities are using intimidation and sleep deprivation to break her mother’s will in order to force her to publically ask president Yanukovych for a pardon. Eugenia Tymoshenko also stated that her mother is under 24-hour video surveillance, with technology that allows prison authorities to see what she is writing to her family and supporters.
“They say it is done for her protection, but I doubt it. When she fell unconscious for two hours due to a sudden mysterious loss of blood pressure, no help came and her cellmates tried to revive her for 20 minutes. When a doctor arrived, they didn't even call an ambulance” Eugenia Tymoshenko said, referring to an incident that took place on December 6, 2011. She added that the Tymoshenko family only found out about this incident three days after it occurred.
Eugenia Tymoshenko also told the Senate that her mother is not the only political prisoner in Ukraine. She explained that the former Minister of Interior Yuri Lutsenko has been in prison for over a year, “on charges that would be laughable if they were not so tragic,” while the former Acting Minister of Defense Valery Ivashchenko has been jailed for almost two years, “with his health severely deteriorating.”
The European Union also expressed their disproval of Tymoshenko’s treatment. At a plenary sitting of the European Parliament in October of last year, members of the Parliament expressed their outrage in a resolution, characterizing the treatment of Tymoshenko by the Ukrainian authorities as politically motivated and inhumane.
In a letter, Yulia Tymoshenko thanked the Secretary of State Clinton for her support.