Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko ends hunger strike

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 2:22am

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko agreed to end her hunger strike, her doctors said, more than two weeks after she began her protest over alleged fraud in polls won by the country's ruling party.

The ex-premier and 2004 orange revolution leader had been refusing food since October 29, as she serves out a seven-year sentence for abuse of power while in office which she says is part of a political vendetta by her arch-foe President Viktor Yanukovych.

Her German doctor Lutz Harms said she would end the hunger strike yesterday.

Tymoshenko's Ukrainian doctor, Irina Foursa, said the opposition leader began eating on Thursday.

Ukraine's deputy health minister, Raissa Moisseenko, said she made her decision to take food after seeing her German doctors.

Ukrainian doctors had also been urging Tymoshenko to end the hunger strike, which she began on October 29, and in recent days she began showing signs that she was ready to begin taking food again, said the minister.

Tymoshenko had been in hospital for a bad back she developed shortly after being sentenced in October.

Harms, her German doctor, said the hunger strike had not helped her recovery.

"This hunger strike is certainly a step backwards," he said. The German physician urged Ukraine to improve hospital conditions for Tymoshenko, including ending video surveillance of the opposition leader.

"An important condition for treatment is confidence between the doctor and his patient," he said.

A Ukrainian court on Tuesday again delayed Tymoshenko's new trial on embezzlement and tax evasion charges, setting a new date of November 23.

That case relates to her time as head of a gas trading company.