Tymoshenko needs urgent back surgery

The daughter of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said Monday that German doctors had determined her ailing mother was in urgent need of surgery on her back.

She said the doctors, who in recent months have visited the firebrand former 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution leader, had concluded that Tymoshenko's health was deteriorating.

"She has recurrent back pain because of a hernia and they recommended surgery," Yevgenia Tymoshenko told reporters citing doctors from the Charite clinic in Berlin.

The doctors last visited Tymoshenko on June 21 after Yevgenia claimed that her mother's health was growing worse. They issued no comment at the time.

But after reviewing the case in Germany, "they suggested performing the surgery as soon as possible," Yevgenia said.

She did not say whether the operation should be performed in Berlin or in Ukraine.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, was sentenced to seven years in jail in October 2011 on contested abuse of power charges after losing a bruising presidential election to her rival, Viktor Yanukovych.

She has spent most of her jail term receiving treatment on her back at a Ukrainian state-run hospital.

On June 21, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said after a meeting with Yanukovych that his country was discussing an offer to treat Tymoshenko for her health problems in Berlin.

Analysts said if the opposition leader is sent to Germany for treatment, it would remove one of the biggest obstacles toward agreeing the first step on Ukraine's path to EU membership.

Tymoshenko has insisted her imprisonment was ordered by Yanukovych in a bid to eliminate a dangerous opponent from political life ahead of 2015 presidential polls.