(HN, Feb 15, 2012) - Amid growing fears over the well-being of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, medical teams from Germany and Canada have arrived in the country to carry out their own examinations of the imprisoned opposition leader.
Tymoshenko, who was given a seven-year sentence for financial wrongdoing whilst in office after a trial that the European Union and the United States said was politically motivated, has been suffering from medical problems - primarily serious back pain - for several months.
A German team examined Tymoshenko Tuesday evening and were allegedly detained for three hours, according to her defense lawyer and Ukrainian politician, Serhiy Vlasenko. He added that prison officials have denied him the right, as a Ukrainian legislator, to access Tymoshenko at the Kachanivska penal colony in Kharkiv.
Vlasenko was also quoted as saying that, for more than five hours, the Canadian doctors were being pressured to disclose the diagnosis to representatives of the Health Ministry of Ukraine. He said the results of the checkup could be disclosed only to the patient, and "any person indicated by the patient," the Kyiv Post reported.
According to a joint order issued by the Foreign Ministry, Healthcare Ministry and Penitentiary Service, the medical commission comprises Ukrainian doctors, three Canadian and two German specialists.
The Canadian team were dispatched after strong intervention from the Government of Canada.
The Interfax news agency reported that the Germans left early on Wednesday with the results of their examination in a sealed envelope, which is to remain closed until another round of medical examinations are completed by Canadian doctors on Wednesday.
In addition, Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevgenia, said she was not allowed to visit her mother.
She said: “They’re not letting me in for the second day in a row. We don’t know what is going on. We don’t understand what pressure she is under there. Yesterday we had all the prosecutor’s office and prison service representatives there. They put a lot of pressure on her to make her agree to the (presence of) Ukrainian doctors, which she has solid grounds to refuse....we don’t know either her diagnosis, or what is happening to her.”
She said she did not rule out that the diagnosis of her mother made by the foreign doctors might be falsified.
The Canadian team is composed of general practice doctors George Rewa and Peter Kujtan, and also an obstetrician-gynecologist Christine Derzko, according to Ukrainian media reports.
"We are here on a humanitarian basis. We were welcomed very well, and we will be conducting the research on strictly scientific basis. We proceed from the premise that the Government will make a conclusion judging from the results of this humanitarian mission," Rewa told journalists at the airport, according to the Ukrainian News Agency.
Western governments, led by European Union officials, have criticized the politicization of Tymoshenko's trial and had put pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to release her. The two are long-time political opponents.
In a recent statement, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said: “Canada is very pleased that our government’s interventions have paved the way for three Canadian doctors to participate in the international medical commission being established by the Government of Ukraine to independently assess the health of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
"While this is a welcome development, we hope that outstanding issues can be resolved expeditiously to allow doctors access to Ms. Tymoshenko as soon as possible. Ms. Tymoshenko’s health, diagnosis and treatment should remain the primary focus of all involved.
"Canada remains concerned by the apparently arbitrary and politically biased nature of judicial proceedings against Ms. Tymoshenko and other individuals, which undermine the rule of law. We stand ready to work with Ukraine to help build a democratic, open and prosperous society.
- HUMNEWS staff