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These Facebook Photos Allegedly Show the Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Is Being Beaten in Prison


"Everything that has been happening to Yulia Tymoshenko is a rehearsal of her physical destruction..."

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for alleged fraud, claimed last week she had endured beatings and began a hunger strike in protest of her treatment, which officials have denied. Today, photographic evidence of her bruises and wounds have been posted on Facebook.

Business Insider explains the photos were uploaded by Ukrainian journalist Vitaly Portnikov, who claims he received them form a "diplomatic source."

On Thursday, Germany's top human rights official Markus Loening urged Ukrainian authorities to ensure that Tymoshenko, 51, gets proper treatment for her back condition.

German doctors who examined her say she is in severe and constant pain caused by a herniated disk and needs urgent treatment in a specialized medical clinic.

Ukrainian authorities long insisted that Tymoshenko's health was satisfactory and that she can be treated inside the prison. But they finally bowed to Western pressure and announced earlier this month she can be treated at a hospital in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv where her prison is located.

Business Insider reported Tymoshenko resisted begin taken for treatment because she didn't trust the hospital doctors. With the hunger strike, her family is reported by the Associated Press as saying they fear she will be force fed. Her hunger strike began last week.

She claims that guards punched her in the stomach and twisted her arms and legs while taking her to a hospital against her will to be treated for debilitating back pain.

Tymoshenko appears pallid and worn-out in photos of her lying in prison taken by Ukraine's top human rights official - a shadow of the glamorous figure who faced crowds in haute-couture gowns and golden braids. The pictures by Nina Karpachova show blotches on Tymoshenko's abdomen, lower arm and abdomen.

Her daughter told The Associated Press that her health was failing rapidly.

"After the attack, she was in intense pain," Eugenia Tymoshenko said in a telephone interview. "She is very weak, she hasn't eaten for seven days, only drinking water. Prison officials threaten that they will force-feed her."

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges of abusing her powers in a Russian energy deal. The West has strongly condemned the verdict as politically motivated and threatened to freeze cooperation with Ukraine.

Oleksandr Tymoshenko, the jailed opposition leader's husband, told the AP in the Czech capital of Prague - where he has been granted asylum - that he believes the Ukrainian government is slowly killing his wife.

"Everything that has been happening to Yulia Tymoshenko is a rehearsal of her physical destruction - a murder that the authorities have been planning to carry out since the beginning of repression against her."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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