09:38 08.04.2013

Reporters not allowed into Tymoshenko's hospital

Journalists and cameramen have been denied access to the hospital in Kharkiv where former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is undergoing medical treatment.

Several dozen reporters Sunday rose to the 9th floor of the hospital where Tymoshenko's ward is located, accompanied by lawmaker Arsen Avakov of the Batkivschyna party, an Interfax correspondent reported.

Avakov informed the chief security guard that Tymoshenko had asked them to come and to attend the procedure of drawing up an act documenting her alleged refusal to go to court to be questioned as a witness in the lawmaker Yevhen Scherban murder case.

The press was denied entry, however, and the chief security guard asked them to contact the prison administration.

"She stands accused of a murder. Tymoshenko is ready to go to Kyiv even though she is feeling unwell. But we can see that the Penitentiary Service has devised a chain of illegal procedures and is using spy cameras," Avakov told the press outside the hospital on Sunday.

"This can happen any time - early or late at night, when Tymoshenko is having a rest, or when she is unprepared to be filmed - any woman can understand this. The answer is always the same: publicity, openness and clarity of position. This is why you are here now. This is why Tymoshenko invited you," he told reporters.

Asked whether the press may have been used as a "background crowd" for an opposition action, Avakov said, "Anyone who wants to be a crowd becomes a crowd. In a free country anyone is free to do what one wants to. If you have come, you wanted to come. If you have not, you did not want to," he added.

The ex-prime minister's position on her attendance of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine case, being heard in Kharkiv, differs from the position on her participation in witnesses' questioning under the Scherban murder case in Kyiv, he said.

"The UESU trial is a show. A ruling was passed to close it in the absence of elements of the crime. The Ukrainian Supreme Court did so a long time ago and Tymoshenko won't attend if her health is at stake," Avakov said.

Reports said earlier that Tymoshenko on April 6 invited reporters through the Batkivschyna Parry's press service to come to the hospital where she is being treated.

"I would ask you to attend when prison officials will be drawing up one more fraudulent statement on my alleged refusal to travel to Kyiv for court hearings. Your presence alone can stop the torrents of lies. I hope the prison administration will allow you in and will not obstruct your professional work, and you will document what will be happening in the hospital ward ahead of the questioning of yet another witness in the Scherban case," says Tymoshenko's open letter, posted on the party's Web site.

An Interfax correspondent did not get a reply from the State Penitentiary Service what procedures needed to be observed to be allowed to attend.

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