Reports that Forty-Odd Political Prisoners Deteriorate in Ukrainian Prisons As Court Prepares to Add Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko to List

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As Kiev’s Pechersk court appears ready to sentence Tymoshenko to 7-10 years in prison by the end of September, according to Prosecutor General’s Office, President Yanukovych continues to ignore demands from the EU and world community to immediately free her and 40-odd other political prisoners, many of whose health is rapidly deteriorating. According to, Yanukoych continues to instead make additional arrests in move to crack down on democratic opposition.

Yuri Lutsenko

Immediately following a visit to the Donestsk region of Arensiy Yatsenuk on September 7, government authorities arrested the regime’s latest political prisoner, Leader of the Donestsk regional organization of Yatsenuk’s Front for Change party, Olekasndr Yaroshenko, according to Russian News Agency Interfax. Yatsenuk, who called the arrest ‘’far-fetched,’’ had made a speech in Donetsk, the President’s home town, strongly criticizing Yanukovych as well as regional authorities. Yaroshenko was arrested in his daughter’s apartment and taken by car to a location unknown.

Meanwhile, many Ukraine experts, including Jamestown Foundation member Taras Kuzio, feel as though the West is still giving mixed messages as concerns Ukraine’s political prisoners, having applied significantly more pressure on Belarus dictator Alexandr Lukashenko to free such prisoners in his own country, which has 20, as opposed to 40 plus political prisoners, like Ukraine, almost all of whom have been arrested in the less than two-year-old Yanukovych presidency. Likewise, The Kyiv Post says that Western experts are seemingly overwhelmed by the noise of the Tymoshenko trial, and have forgotten about many of the other prisoners, the names of which have yet to be compiled in full, and unwilling to clarify exactly what actions will be taken if their demands continue to be ignored. Meanwhile, many prisoners, including former internal affairs minister and head of the opposition party, The People’s Self Defense Party, Yuri Lutsenko, and former acting defense minister, from the Tymoshenko government, Valeriy Ivashchenko, are deteriorating rapidly, according to family members, as the government continues to deny them basic medical aid.

Iryna Lutsenko says that her husband, uncharacteristically, sleeps 12-14 hours per day, is unable to hold books to read in his hands, and is completely enervated with awful pangs of pain, which have been unofficially diagnosed as stemming from cirrhosis of the liver. She adds that he is losing weight and feels himself on his last legs, engorged veins shown throughout his body. Lutsenko has been examined by the Bohomotels National Medical University and the Healthcare Ministry, which have confirmed the diagnosis of cirrhosis with appearances of portal hypertension and varicose veins in his esophogas. Appeals made to Kiev’s Pechersk District Court to move Lutsenko from what his wife describes to be a cold cell to the prison hospital, or an outside medical facility, for treatment, were denied. Lutsenko has not yet been convicted on any crime. He has been detained for over a year, awaiting trial.

Valeriya Ivashchenko, daughter of the former acting defense minister, has complained that her father, and other prisoners, have been ignored entirely by the press and public alike, as Tymoshenko has monopolized the news. “There are no reasons for keeping him in prison,” she claims. “We think that this is about revenge [of the Yanukovych administration].” She says that Ivashchenko is held in an a cage, as his trial proceeds, and only allowed to see one family member per month, who is allowed to communicate with him only via a glass partition and speak via telephone. His family is concerned by his deteriorating health. “In prison it is impossible to get help because there is no neurologist or neurology department,” said Vaeriya. Son Serhiy says, “They will destroy him physically,” echoing concerns voiced by organizations including the Danish Helsinki Committee and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The Perchersk Court continues to deny motions for releasing Ivashchenko, so as he can receive proper medical assistance, explaining that he could “put pressures of or influences witnesses through his corrupt connections”, which include, according to the court, family members. “There were no reasons for thinking that it could happen,” Serhiy added. “But we found out it can happen in our country.” Especially under the current authorities.” Ivashchenko’s trial is scheduled to continue September 20.

Tymoshenko herself has already begun to show certain signs of severe illness, including the appearance of hematomas, which change in color and randomly appear and disappear, according to her daughter Eugenia Carr. The Pechersky Court has refused appeals made for her personal physician to examine her on numerous occasions. The state of the remaining political prisoners, largely hailing from her government, is virtually unknown, as sympathizers still scramble to establish their whereabouts. As international journalists have not yet come to fully understand the seriousness of the situation unfolding in Ukraine, says the Kyiv Post, and those in Ukraine face ever more repression and censoring of the press, there lack both people and time to investigate this crisis.


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