May 10, 2012 / 12:26 PM / 7 years ago

Lithuanian leader plans to visit Ukraine's jailed ex-PM

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania’s president plans to visit jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in hospital on Friday, the president’s office said on Thursday.

Tymoshenko, whose plight has soured relations between Ukraine’s leadership and the West, was moved on Wednesday from prison in the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv to the hospital for treatment for back pain, and ended her hunger strike.

If the visit by Dalia Grybauskaite comes off, the Lithuanian president will be the first foreign leader to see the former Ukrainian prime minister since she was jailed last October for seven years for alleged abuse of office after a trial denounced in the West.

Tymoshenko, whose hospital treatment is being supervised by a German doctor, says she is the victim of a vendetta by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovich.

Yanukovich has looked increasingly isolated in the face of growing criticism by Western governments of Tymoshenko’s conviction and the authorities’ refusal to let her travel abroad for medical treatment.

Grybauskaite’s office said the Lithuanian president would also meet Yanukovich, possibly in Kiev on Friday, together with a small group of other East European leaders.

“We are in contact with Ukraine and are waiting for confirmation of the final timings,” said Daiva Ulbinaite, spokeswoman for Grybauskaite.

It was unclear exactly which countries would be represented at the meeting, though a spokesman for Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti confirmed he would attend.

Earlier this week, Yanukovich cancelled a planned summit of Central and East European leaders due to take place in the Black Sea resort of Yalta on Friday and Saturday because several of them had refused to attend because of the Tymoshenko case.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; writing by Patrick Lannin; editing by Richard Balmforth

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