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Former Ukrainian prime minister to end hunger strike

By the CNN Wire Staff
May 8, 2012 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
Tymoshenko shows an apparent bruise on her stomach, in a penitentiary colony for women in Kharkiv, March 25, 2012.
Tymoshenko shows an apparent bruise on her stomach, in a penitentiary colony for women in Kharkiv, March 25, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Yulia Tymoshenko has been on hunger strike since April 20 to protest her treatment in prison
  • The ex-Ukrainian prime minister is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of authority
  • She will be transferred to a hospital for treatment by Wednesday, a spokeswoman says

(CNN) -- Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has agreed to end her nearly three-week hunger strike and receive medical treatment, her spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Tymoshenko, who has been on hunger strike since April 20, will be transferred to a hospital in the eastern city of Kharkov by Wednesday, according to spokeswoman Marina Soroka.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence after she was convicted last year of abuse of authority. She went on hunger strike last month to draw attention to "violence and lack of rights" in her country after she said she was beaten unconscious in prison.

The prosecutor said his office investigated her claim of abuse and found no proof to substantiate her allegations, but European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said last month that the Ukrainian Ombudsperson's Office confirmed the report.

Ashton called on Ukraine "to examine promptly and impartially any complaints of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed concern over Tymoshenko's treatment, saying in a statement last week that photos released by the Ombudsperson's Office "further call into question the conditions of her confinement."

In October, a Ukrainian court found Tymoshenko guilty of abuse of authority for signing overpriced gas contracts with Russia and sentenced her to the seven-year prison term.

The prosecutor said the gas deals inflicted damages to the country amounting to more than 1.5 billion hryvnias (almost $190 million at the current exchange rate). The court ruled she must repay the money.

Amnesty International has slammed the verdict as "politically motivated" and called for the release of Tymoshenko, who was prime minister from January to September 2005 and December 2007 to March 2010.

Clinton also called for the release of Tymoshenko and other members of her government "and the restoration of their full civil and political rights."

CNN's Igor Krotov contributed to this report.

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