The United States condemned the alleged mistreatment of jailed politician Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine on Tuesday and called for her release.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington was deeply concerned by the treatment of Tymoshenko, adding that recent photos of the ex-Ukrainian prime minister and revolutionary leader with bruises on her arms and stomach further call into question the conditions of her confinement, according to Reuters.
Tymoshenko was found guilty of abuse of power by a Kiev court in October over a 2009 gas deal with Russia, and she recently began serving a seven year prison term. The verdict was widely decried as a political ploy by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych, both at home and abroad.
Earlier this week, Tymoshenko went on a hunger strike after prison guards allegedly hit her and took her by force to a local hospital. On Tuesday, Clinton insisted that Ukraine give Tymoshenko medical treatment and allow the U.S. ambassador to visit her.
We continue to call for her release, the release of other members of her former government and the restoration of their full civil and political rights, Clinton said in a statement.
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Ukrainian officials have said that Tymoshenko's bruises were self-inflicted and that the former prime minster has personally refused medical treatment.
The U.S. joins the European Union and Russia in its condemnation, while Austria, Italy and Slovenia have already cancelled trips to Ukraine and the Czech Republic is skipping the summit of the presidents of the Central European countries in Yalta in May.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that members of her cabinet boycott the Euro 2012 soccer tournament being hosted by Ukraine and Poland in June unless Tymoshenko were released.
My mother has not been eating for 12 days. We are very worried about her health, Tymoshenko's daughter Yevgeniya said in a statement on Tuesday.
It's the holidays and they're not letting us see her, and we don't know what can happen to her during this time. We are very worried. I appeal to every Ukrainian: don't be indifferent. If Yanukovych's regime did this to the former prime minister, think about what they can do to you.