KIEV, Ukraine – The saga surrounding the health condition of jailed Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko took another turn Sunday, as she was moved back to prison following just one day in the hospital after refusing treatment from state doctors.
Tymoshenko, 51, the country's top opposition leader, is serving a seven-year term on charges of abuse of office in a case that was condemned as politically motivated by the West. She needs treatment for intense pain due to a herniated disc, but the government has refused to give her adequate medical care for months and negotiations on her treatment are still ongoing.
On Friday, Tymoshenko was transported to a clinic in the eastern city of Kharkiv where her prison is located under unclear circumstances. Her representatives said she was rushed to the clinic late at night in the "best traditions of totalitarianism" and charged that she was likely moved there against her will.
The state prison service said that Tymoshenko was moved back to prison Sunday because she "categorically" refused treatment at the clinic.
Tymoshenko's lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko called the back-and-forth shuttling "absurd."
"It doesn't make any sense, it's just insane. Why first force her into the hospital and then kick her out the next day?," Vlasenko told the Associated Press.
German doctors who have examined Tymoshenko have recommended urgent treatment in a specialized clinic. They've inspected the Kharkiv hospital where she was briefly moved, but have made no public statements about its conditions. Ukrainian health officials claim the German doctors have approved the clinic for Tymoshenko's treatment, but her office says the doctors have concluded her treatment there will be ineffective.
Tymoshenko is also standing trial on charges of tax evasion in a separate case and faces a number of other investigations. She maintains her innocence and accuses her longtime foe, President Viktor Yanukovych, of seeking to lock her in jail to keep her out of parliamentary elections in the fall.
The imprisonment of Tymoshenko and several top allies has strained Ukraine's ties with the West.