EU leaders shun Ukraine over Tymoshenko case
UKRAINE faced growing isolation yesterday as five presidents and the EU Commission cancelled visits over the suspected treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko, its jailed former prime minister.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the EU Commission's president, and Viviane Reding, its justice commissioner, said they would boycott the Euro 2012 tournament.
There were also reports that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and an avid football fan, may snub the tournament over the suspected maltreatment of Mrs Tymoshenko, Ukraine's opposition leader, who is reported to be on hunger strike in prison.
The presidents of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovenia yesterday informed Kiev of plans to miss the Yalta meeting of central and eastern European presidents, on May 11 and 12.
European leaders and officials have previously complained that Mrs Tymoshenko's jailing last year was unfair, but disapproval grew last week when pictures emerged of her showing bruises, which she claimed were the result of a beating when she was forcibly taken from prison to visit a clinic on April 20.
In October she was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office, in what her supporters claimed was a show trial orchestrated by the president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Mrs Tymoshenko's daughter, Eugenia, said the rebuffs were "the last diplomatic warning to the regime".
Mrs Merkel has yet to confirm her position. But a spokesman for Ukraine's foreign ministry said: "I would not like to think that the statesmen of Germany are capable of reanimating the methods of the Cold War and trying to make sport a hostage to politics."
Mr Barroso said he would skip the opening ceremony of Euro 2012, "unless there is a swift improvement in the human rights situation". (© Daily Telegraph, London)