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Tymoshenko, Ukraine's jailed ex-PM, 'on hunger strike': lawyer

Tymoshenko launches a fresh protest from prison.

Ukr yulia hosp 1204Enlarge
Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko listens as the verdict on her case is read out on Oct. 11, 2011. Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail for abusing her powers in a 2009 gas deal with Russia, a verdict that has harmed ties with the European Union and other Western powers. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

The lawyer for jailed Yulia Tymoshenko today said the ex-Ukrainian prime minister, imprisoned for abuse of office, has been on hunger strike since Friday in protest of her treatment by prison officials, reported Reuters

Lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko told the Russian Interfax news agency today that his client is protesting against "what is happening in the country and what is happening to her in prison," saying she sustained heavy bruising when she was moved from her jail cell to a hospital on Friday, said BBC

More from GlobalPost: Ukraine's jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko moved to hospital

She was taken to a hospital over concerns of a back injury but was returned to her jail cell in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Sunday after she refused an examination, according to Reuters

Local prosecutor Hennadiy Tyurin told AFP today that "the prison service has the right to use physical force," saying security forces "took her in their arms, carried her to the vehicle and took her to hospital." 

In response, "Yulia Tymoshenko has declared a hunger strike," Vlasenko told Interfax, according to AFP

The 51-year-old, considered the heroine of the country's 2004 anti-government Orange Revolution, was once an ally of Ukraine's current President Viktor Yanukovich, but the two became bitter rivals during the country's ruthless 2010 presidential election. 

The news will mean an end to reported visits by Tymoshenko's mother, whom Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said often brought her daughter "tea, cheese, bread, cookies, dried fruit, and yogurt" while being held in cell No, 242, which it described as "more than twice the size of an ordinary three-person prison room," complete with a huge window, TV, and fridge. 

Despite the reportedly comfy quarters, the West has questioned the jailing of Ukraine's former female leader, known for her blond braid up-do that she has managed to maintain even while in prison, suggesting political motives behind her seven-year jail sentence.

She is charged with abuse of office with the signing of a controversial 2009 Russian gas deal and has recently been summoned to a new trial on charges of tax fraud.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120424/tymoshenko-ukraines-jailed-ex-pm-hunger-strike-lawyer