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Tymoshenko protests halt Ukraine legislature

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Tymoshenko protests halt Ukraine legislature
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The Ukrainian parliament remains frozen after three days of protests by the opposition against the government’s treatment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, on hunger strike in jail.

Her protest began on Friday when, she alleges in a written statement, she was dragged from bed and punched in the stomach during her forced transfer to a hospital.

“Nobody is going to wonder why we’re blocking parliament, because there’s a statement from the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is imprisoned illegally, saying she was beaten,” said opposition MP Andriy Shkil.

The government maintains it is legitimately upholding a judicial verdict, but the pressure is growing:

“This behaviour appeared with the Party Election system. Each MP has common political demands, like freedom and democracy but believe you me, they also stand up and say ‘Yulia, look, I’m here, don’t forget me for your party list,” said pro-government MP Volodymyr Makeenko.

Germany’s President Joachim Gauk today announced he was declining an official invitiation to the Central European Heads of State meeting in Yalta in May, a decison his office said was in part prompted by the Tymoshenko affair.

Tymoshenko insists her trial was politically rigged by President Yanukovich to ensure the removal of his main political rival.