Ukraine plays down threats to boycott Euro 2012

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Ukraine plays down threats to boycott Euro 2012

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Ukraine has described as “cold war tactics” threats by European countries to boycott the Euro 2012 championships.

Several leaders have called off visits to the country in protest at the treatment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who’s in jail for abuse of power. They include EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Germany says a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel during the games could also be cancelled.

Ukraine is hosting the Euro 2012 tournament together with Poland this summer.

Tymoshenko was the main political rival of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. She was jailed for 7 years last October after a court ruled she exceeded her powers as prime minister when she agreed a gas deal with Russia. She denies the charges.

Recently, Tymoshenko made allegations that prison guards had beaten her and has been on hunger strike since then.