Ukraine's imprisoned former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was moved from her cell to a hospital Wednesday for treatment of a chronic back condition after ending a 19-day hunger strike in protest of alleged harsh treatment from prison guards.
Tymoshenko, 51, agreed to end her hunger strike and receive medical treatment from a German doctor for a herniated disk in her spine. The Ukrainian government had previously denied her requests to receive treatment outside the country and Tymoshenko refused treatment by Ukrainian doctors, citing fears of being deliberately harmed by the state.
Why take the risk and give the regime a chance to announce with a smile, 'Sorry, but there has been a medical error and she has died,' Tymoshenko's lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko told the AFP news agency.
The former prime minister was given a seven-year sentence and imprisoned last October for abuse of power while in office, a charge which she claims is false and the result of a vendetta by political rival and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
Yanukovich has received international criticism from the U.S. and E.U. over Tymoshenko's trial and treatment in prison.
Tymoshenko began a hunger strike on April 20, after claiming she was beaten by prison guards for refusing to be moved to a Ukrainian medical facility. Pictures have surfaced of severe bruising on Tymoshenko's body, though Ukrainian authorities have denied that the prison guards were responsible or that she was mistreated in any way.
German neurologist Dr. Lutz Harms is now administering care following her hunger strike, before she receives treatment for her back, which Harms said would require a therapy program of at least eight weeks.
She has halted her hunger strike. We are now building up towards a normal nutrition regime, Harms told reporters outside the hospital in Kharkiv, BBC News reported. She is very weak and we will need to wait several days for her situation to stabilize.