Kiev: The daughter of the jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has urged David Cameron to withdraw President Viktor Yanukovych’s invitation to next month’s Olympics, reported The Guardian.
The British government is boycotting the group stage of the Euro 2012 football championship in Ukraine in protest at the deteriorating human rights situation and the jailing of Tymoshenko, the country’s former prime minister, last year.
But in an interview with the Guardian before Tuesday’s Ukraine v England game, Eugenia Tymoshenko said the boycott by the UK and other EU countries had been ineffective. Yanukovych had ignored it, she said, with prosecutors indicating on Monday that Tymoshenko would additionally be charged with murder.
The deputy prosecutor Renat Kuzmin told the Kommersant newspaper he had enough evidence to charge her with the killing 16 years ago of the businessman and MP Yevhen Shcherban. He was gunned down at an airport with his wife and aide in a contract-style killing.
Tymoshenko denies the allegations. Her party says they are part of Yanukovych’s campaign to eliminate his political opponents. “Ukraine is ruled by a dictator who sets his servants loose against all those who have the courage to speak out against the country’s sliding towards a criminal abyss,” it said.
Given the boycott’s apparent failure, Eugenia said Downing Street should withdraw Yanukovych’s invitation to the Olympics opening ceremony on 27 July. Ukraine’s foreign ministry has confirmed he wants to attend. She also urged the UK to introduce visa bans for high-ranking Ukrainian officials who had “illegally enriched” themselves and a freeze of their UK assets.
Eugenia acknowledged Yanukovych was “getting the message” from EU leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, as well as from diplomats and EU parliamentarians, but added: “He’s closing his eyes and ears.” She said his priority was to keep Tymoshenko in jail and to ensure his ruling Party of Regions won – or “falsified” – October’s parliamentary elections. “The elections are essential for his continued political existence,” she said.
Tymoshenko is in a hospital in eastern Kharkiv, one of Ukraine’s four Euro 2012 host cities. Eugenia said her mother was “feeling a little bit better” following a 21-day hunger strike in April, but still had acute back pain and was unable to walk unaided.
She said conditions for her mother were humiliating, with guards watching her get changed and receive treatment, via video surveillance cameras. She added the two guards who allegedly beat her up in April – causing bruises on her arms and stomach – were still assigned to her, causing her immense psychological strain.