Yulia Tymoshenko moved to a Kharkiv hospital
The former Prime Minister has been moved to hospital to be treated for back pain and the effects of a hunger strike she declared on 22 April after allegedly being beaten by Penitentiary Service employees. It was also announced on Wednesday that she was ending her hunger strike.
Ms Tymoshenko was taken to the side entrance of a hospital in Kharkiv in a heavily guarded convoy. Telekritika later reported that journalists had been thrown out of the hospital grounds.
The BBC World Service reported that two lines of hospital staff shielded Ms Tymoshenko as she was carried into hospital on a stretcher, while supporters shouted "Freedom for Yulia", according to reports.
She suffers from a debilitating back condition, and has lost 10kg (22lb) while on hunger strike, according to her daughter, Yevgenia Tymoshenko.
Her supporters say that she was extremely frail and unable to walk even before she began her hunger strike.
Speaking outside the hospital, Ukrainian Deputy Health Minister Raisa Moiseenko said the transfer had taken place "according to an agreement with an international medical commission under the supervision of German doctor Professor Harms".
Ms Moiseenko said Prof Harms would be in charge of Ms Tymoshenko's care, and that further specialists could be called upon if needed.
She said he had brought some medication with him, and may even live in the hospital while he oversees her treatment.
Ms Tymoshenko has refused treatment by Ukrainian doctors, saying she feared being deliberately poisoned or infected by the state.
Her lawyer Sergiy Vlasenko told AFP news agency: "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'."
The Ukrainian authorities refused her request to leave the country for treatment, saying the law did not permit it.
As reported here, Yulia Tymoshenko asserts that she was beaten by staff when taken back from a Kharkiv hospital to prison on 22 April. The Prosecutor General asserts that a full check was carried out into the allegations but that they were not substantiated.
This was not the view of the outgoing Human Rights Ombudsperson, Nina Karpachova who visited Ms Tymoshenko and revealed photos. The new Ombudsperson, Valeria Lutkovska has made no comments about any of the former government officials imprisoned. Lutkovska has denied her predecessor’s claim that the Ombudsperson’s Secretariat has been searched. She says however that members of staff have been questioned with their consent.
After12 Presidents aannounced that they would not be attending the Central and East European States' Presidential Meeting in Yalta because of the situation with Yulia Tymoshenko, the summit was put off indefinitely.
There is considerable debate at present as to whether government officials will boycoutt the Euro 2012 Football Championship in July.