Germans slam Ukraine as Tymoshenko case drags

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn a parallel between Ukraine and its authoritarian neighbor Belarus, saying Thursday that people in those countries are still living under dictatorship and repression.

Merkel's harsh words to Parliament about Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's government came amid German efforts to ensure jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko receives proper medical care. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

"Today, we in Germany and in the European Union are living in peace and freedom — but unfortunately not in all of Europe, because in Ukraine and in Belarus people are still suffering under dictatorship and repression," Merkel told lawmakers.

Several Western governments have spoken out against the legal prosecution of Tymoshenko, saying the cases against her are politically motivated.

The issue is threatening to turn soccer's European Championship, which Ukraine is co-hosting with Poland next month, into a political embarrassment. Some European officials have vowed to boycott matches held in Ukraine over the alleged mistreatment of Tymoshenko

Tymoshenko, 51, ended a nearly three-week hunger strike Wednesday, after being moved from jail to a hospital for treatment of a severe back condition under a German doctor's supervision.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Berlin's offer to have Tymoshenko brought to Germany for treatment stands, saying that "we want Ms. Tymoshenko to receive appropriate long-term medical treatment."

He insisted that "Ukraine must fully commit itself to democracy and the rule of law."

Germany's parliamentary speaker, Norbert Lammert, discussed the situation in Ukraine on Thursday with his counterpart from Poland's Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz.

A statement from the German Parliament after the two met in Berlin said they agreed that boycotting a sports event is not the right way to deal with a political conflict.

Borusewicz argued that "a boycott could easily lead down a political blind alley," it added.