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Calls for Ukraine Euro 2012 boycott grow louder

The Local · 30 Apr 2012, 12:07

Published: 30 Apr 2012 12:07 GMT+02:00

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Tensions between Berlin and Kiev reached new heights after German media reported Chancellor Angela Merkel could boycott matches held in Ukraine unless Tymoshenko is released.

Merkel is seriously considering banning the cabinet from attending Germany’s games in Ukraine during the championship in June if Tymoshenko is still in prison then, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday.

Tymoshenko, 51, went on hunger strike on April 20 saying she was in chronic pain and had been beaten by prison guards. Photos released last week showed her with a large bruise on her abdomen.

The opposition leader is serving a disputed seven-year prison term in the eastern city of Kharkiv on abuse-of-office charges described by many in Europe as politically motivated.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich - in his secondary role as Sports Minister - said he would boycott the Germany vs Netherlands match in Kharkiv on June 13 if he was forbidden from visiting Tymoshenko before-hand.

Now Germany is pushing for the opposition leader’s release on health grounds.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday the German government would use "all the means at its disposal" to ensure Tymoshenko received "appropriate and thorough" care.

Director of the Charité hospital in Berlin Karl Max Einhäupl repeated his call on Monday for Tymoshenko to travel to Berlin for treatment, following a visit by a team of his doctors last week to check on her condition.

Ukranian doctors would not be able to treat Tymoshenko’s slipped disc which has become chronic and requires attention from a team of various specialists, Einhäupl told the ZDF-Morgenmagazin on Monday. The hospital director has invited Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych to discuss the matter of her release.

"The Berlin doctors believe that (Yulia Tymoshenko’s) treatment would best occur in a German hospital," said Merkel on Friday. "That’s what the Foreign Office and the Chancellery are working towards."

Ukrainian politicians responded with outrage on Monday to German ‘interference’ over Tymoshenko – who was the face of the 2004 Orange Revolution and is the main political rival of President Viktor Yanukovich.

"We would not like to think that the political leaders of Germany are capable of reviving the methods of the Cold War and making sport a hostage of politics," Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshyn told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Director of Bayern Munich club Uli Hoeness added his voice to the fray on Sunday, calling on the German team and UEFA president Michel Platini to add to the mounting political pressure on the Ukrainian authorities.

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"I really hope that Michel Platini will clearly express his opinion in the right places," Hoeness told Spiegel on Sunday. As for the German team, "the players are smart enough to form their own opinions," he said.

Pressure is mounting elsewhere as the Czech president joined the German, Slovenian and Austrian presidents in turning down an invitation to a meeting of European presidents to be hosted by Ukraine in May.

AFP/DADP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:32 April 30, 2012 by starsh3ro
hypocrisy at its best.
14:02 April 30, 2012 by smart2012
BS.... Merkel, stop buying gas from Ukraine, if u really believe in what u r doing... Agree, just hypocrisy!
14:20 April 30, 2012 by minga
All this political correctness spring up when there is a sport event. Something similar happened during Beijing olympics. Once the Olympics was over, it was business as usual with China.
16:33 April 30, 2012 by michael4096
While I agree that using football as a political 'football' is none optimal, not reacting at all would be worse.
16:35 April 30, 2012 by maxbrando
Hey, sometimes people are expendable. Natural gas is not.
18:11 April 30, 2012 by karldehm
Actually the gas comes from Russia not the Ukraine. As for pressure, every little bit helps. Or we could sit on our asses and do nothing!
19:47 April 30, 2012 by Sayer
Can you imagine if the Ukraine meddled in a domestic judicial case in a German court? Berlin: mind your own business.
22:02 April 30, 2012 by ovalle3.14
Funny. When the Euro was in Switzerland, a country who keeps money from drug lords and dictators, nobody said anything. Oh wait, they're our brothers.
00:00 May 1, 2012 by Bigfoot76
Is it possible for Germany to Boycott after they win Euro 2012? PLEASE!!!
01:03 May 1, 2012 by jeff10renatus
Are there any 'good guys' in Eastern Europe? She and her husband did run the state-owned oil/energy company before entering politics and they did become quite wealthy while running the company. In fact, this pretty much is the story for all of the politicians in the former 'communist block' countries.

Two major problems are crony capitalism and, among all of the people, a lack of any semblence of loyalty to the country and fellow countryman. This is what 70 + years of communism will produce in the people. Yes, the new socialist man of lenin and marx (the one brother who wasn't funny) is a sociopathic, greedy pig with no love of or loyalty to anyone.
09:38 May 1, 2012 by twisted
Boycott the games !!!!!. Unfortunately, the amount of money involved with the games preclude this from happening. Money takes precedence over all other considerations. If the games were to be boycotted, it would be a great embarrassment for Yanukovich as well costing his government huge sums of money. Yanukovich is a criminal from the word go and should be banned from the EU and all his bank accounts frozen.

By the way I have no great love for Yulia Tymoshenko either. She is a politician and we all know that politicians are NOT honest people.
06:29 May 2, 2012 by volvoman9
The imprisonment of this lady is a travesty of justice. If Europe wants the former Soviet block nations to integrate with western Europe they must take a stand against the oppression and corruption. Russia and it's mafia are Petro terrorists and the former Soviet Union is a giant criminal enterprise. Most Russians long for the comfort and structure of communism rather than the dis-functional quagmire they live in today. The Ukraine exists under the same model of corruption. Bravo to Chancellor Merkel for showing the courage to be the first to stand. And for those who cry hypocrisy I would say put your money where your mouth is. If you are willing to pay the higher prices of gas from other sources you won't be held hostage by the Petro Mafia
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