Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich on Tuesday allowed jailed opponent Yulia Tymoshenko to get medical treatment outside prison, relaxing a hard line stance after Lithuania's leader told him Europe had been shocked by her trial.
A Ukrainian human rights monitor was quoted on Monday as saying that Tymoshenko, 50, was in poor health and had been unable to move from her bed in her cell.
She was jailed for seven years last month after being found guilty of abuse of office while prime minister, in a trial she and European Union leaders say was politically motivated.
Yanukovich, speaking at a joint news conference after what appeared to have been frosty talks with visiting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, said he had been in contact with the prosecutor general and relevant ministries about his rival's health.
I was informed that the system (of medical treatment in jail) ... is not up to the required standards. So this treatment or medical services will have to be provided in medical institutions in Kiev, in the coming days, either today or tomorrow, he said.
Moments earlier at the same news conference, Grybauskaite spelled out a tough message to Yanukovich which she said she had been authorised to pass on from the EU.
Europe was shocked by the decision taken by the court about the opposition leader. In Europe, the opinion prevails that Tymoshenko and her colleagues are the victims of a process of political neutralisation, she said.
In Kiev city centre security forces fenced off parts of Independence Square on Tuesday to prevent large-scale protests to mark the anniversary of the 2004 Orange Revolution which doomed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency.
Several people were detained after scuffles with police.
Tymoshenko played a key role in that popular uprising which led to Yanukovich's victory in a run-off against Viktor Yushchenko being overturned.
Yanukovich went on to lose a third round of voting to Yushchenko and many commentators date his personal dislike for Tymoshenko from then.
Tymoshenko subsequently served as prime minister, twice under Yushchenko. But the two fell out and Yushchenko gave evidence against her at her trial which was linked to a gas pricing deal with Russia in 2009.
In a defiant statement on Tymoshenko's party website marking the Orange anniversary, the charismatic opposition leader called on people to re-kindle the sense of pride of 2004.
Rounding on the Yanukovich leadership, Tymoshenko said a heap of kleptomaniacs had taken over in Ukraine, surrendering national assets, raising taxes and cutting pensions.
CRISIS WITH EU
Grybauskaite's words underscored the crisis in the ex-Soviet republic's relations with the EU.
Before Tymoshenko's trial, Kiev had been hoping to tie up deals on association and free trade with the bloc.
But relations have soured over the trial, and the sides, who were due to sign the association agreement at a summit in Kiev next month, may now just initial the deal, an act that would not commit them to it legally.
The EU has called for Ukraine to free Tymoshenko, backing her view that her trial is a part of a vendetta against her by Yanukovich.
Yanukovich, who narrowly beat Tymoshenko for the presidency in a bitterly fought run-off in February 2010, says he is simply taking steps to fight corruption and malpractice in high levels of Ukrainian official life.
But Ukrainian officials say privately the decision to prosecute Tymoshenko is driven by the president's personal dislike of her.
(Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens)