Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dutch gov’t threatens to boycott matches in Ukraine

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (BNO NEWS) -- Dutch government officials and the royal family will not attend football matches in Ukraine during Euro 2012 if the conditions of imprisoned opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko do not improve immediately, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Ukraine and Poland will co-host the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship in June, but the international community has slammed the Ukrainian government for the imprisonment and alleged physical abuse of Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison last year for alleged abuse of power.
"Ukraine should now understand what it has to do. The treatment and trial of Tymoshenko has to meet international standards," said Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal on Tuesday. He said the Dutch cabinet sees it as a duty for the Ukrainian government to improve its human rights situation, especially as it will host Euro 2012 and chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) next year.
Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is 'deeply concerned' by the treatment of Tymoshenko and other imprisoned members of her former government. Photos of Tymoshenko became public last week in which she is seen showing bruises on her body after claiming she has been physically abused by prison guards while being transferred to receive treatment for a severe spinal condition. Reports indicate that she has been diagnosed with a herniated spinal disc.
Tymoshenko, 51, is serving a seven-year term for abuse of power in connection with a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She was accused of illegally forcing state energy company Naftogaz to sign a gas supply contract with Russian gas company Gazprom in 2009, which the new government says required approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Tymoshenko has claimed her trial is politically motivated and an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovych, who narrowly beat her in the presidential election in February 2010, to bar her from future elections. The international community has largely condemned her trial and called for her immediate release.

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