I fear for my mother’s life, says Tymoshenko’s daughter
The daughter of Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said she cannot talk her out of her hunger strike and wakes every day fearing for her mother’s life.
Yevgenia Tymoshenko said she does not know “how long she will last” as the former prime minister protests against what international observers say were skewed elections on October 28, won by President Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling party.
The 32-year-old claims she can only speak to her mother in disguised whispers due to the level of monitoring in prison.
An only child, divorced from a British heavy metal singer and with interests in business, Yevgenia - who has no desire to enter politics - has become her mother’s “public defendant” since she was jailed in October last year for abuse of office - in a trial denounced by the West.
“I couldn’t really go inside the trial room because I couldn’t see her being in this situation,” she said in London, where lawyers are compiling a claim with the European Court of Human Rights aimed at getting her mother released.
“I couldn’t even stand watching her in that court, which we all knew would sentence her because it was a manufactured trial with the prosecutors like actors in the show.
“It’s very hard to control yourself and not start screaming at the top of your voice that all of this is falsification.
“I understood that I am one of the people who can help her. To do anything. But I didn’t know exactly what I could do.”
Through her mother’s political contacts across Europe, Yevgenia began to speak on her behalf.
Getting the message out has not been straightforward.
“She is monitored in every corner. We speak in whispers. We have to make some background noise like knocking because the microphones are there,” her daughter said.
“We’re just whispering and it’s very hard to communicate.”
Yulia Tymoshenko, 51, went on hunger strike in April to protest against her alleged bad treatment in prison.
She is by no means universally admired in Ukraine. Critics have accused her of ruthless pragmatism, changing her beliefs with every breath of the political wind.
Despite being in jail, Tymoshenko’s Fatherland bloc took around 26 per cent of the vote in last month’s polls.
She has resumed her hunger strike in protest at alleged electoral fraud and now her daughter fears for her life.
“The first time was after she was attacked and beaten. Then she was on hunger strike for 21 days,” said her daughter.
“Now I don’t know how long she will last.”
While in office (2005 and 2007-2010), Tymoshenko was known for her stubbornness.
“Everything she does is done with such determination that it’s hard to stop her or to talk her into stopping, because she’s always been like this,” Yevgenia said.
“I’m very worried about her and her health because she’s already lost 10 kilograms in prison. She’s losing weight and she’s very weak. Most of the time she is lying down.
“But she is in good morale.
“Every morning I wake up and hope that my mother is alive, that she’s fine, that she hasn’t been moved at night or attacked.
“Every day I’m afraid for her life.”
Yevgenia longs for her mother’s release and for her own life and career to return to normal.
“I dream about this day but I feel I will be waiting a few months more,” she said.