Euro 2012: Ukraine denounces 'destructive' boycott threat

Supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are seen in a tent camp in central Kiev May 3, 2012 Supporters of Ms Tymoshenko have held protests calling for her release

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Ukraine says a threatened EU boycott of Euro 2012 football matches it is hosting next month is "destructive".

In a statement, the foreign ministry said the move would undermine the image of the tournament and be detrimental to millions of Ukrainians and Poles.

Poland - which is co-hosting the event - has also criticised any boycott.

Several European leaders are considering cancelling their trips to Ukraine, in protest over the treatment of jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ms Tymoshenko, whose trial last year was condemned as politically motivated, is on hunger strike after allegedly being beaten by prison guards.

'Loss for millions'

The statement from the Ukrainian foreign ministry said sport events were designed to bring unity, and criticised what it said were attempts to politicise them.

"We view as destructive attempts to politicise sporting events, which since ancient times have played a paramount role in improving understanding and agreement between nations," the statement said.

"A successful championship will be a victory not for politicians, parties or ideologies, but for all Ukrainians and Poles. Its failure will be a loss for millions," it said.

There has been mounting pressure over the case of Ms Tymoshenko.

In photos published by the website Liga, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is shown displaying bruises Several images of Ms Tymoshenko show bruising on her body

Austria and Belgium have already said they will not attend the games. The Dutch government said it would boycott it unless there was significant improvement in Ms Tymoshenko's human rights.

European politicians, including European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso, have also cancelled their trips.

The UK and Germany say they have not yet made a decision, but both countries have expressed concern over Ms Tymoshenko's situation.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would not confirm whether she would attend.

"Much more important than my travel plans is that we must now do everything possible to see that Yulia Tymoshenko gets the proper treatment for her medical problems as soon as possible," Mrs Merkel was quoted as saying by the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper.

"The German government has been working on this for weeks and our offer stands for her to receive this medical treatment in Germany."

Also on Thursday, Russian Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin said Russia would be willing to offer Ms Tymoshenko treatment, but said he opposed calls for a boycott.

Meanwhile, five European presidents - from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia - have said they will not attend a Ukrainian summit of Central and East European leaders next week in Yalta.

'On track'

But Ukraine's deputy prime minister has said Euro 2012 is on track and Uefa - European football's governing body - had not complained.

"The tournament is ready and on 11 May we will be transferring the control of the four stadia to Uefa," Borys Kolesnikov told AFP news agency.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, was jailed last year for abuse of office, in a trial condemned by the West as politically motivated.

She is an arch-rival of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, who beat her to the presidency in February 2010, avenging his defeat in the 2004 Orange Revolution.

The opening games of the month-long Euro 2012 will be played on 9 June.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Maybe this issue (Ukraine) has come to a head just in time, before the EU extends its poverty striken member states list further east.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    FYI, I want China and all ASEAN nations to boycott Ukraine too.

    Pull them down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    It's ridiculous how some authoritarian political parties (like Ukraine and China) always try to fall back on claiming that Olympics is not about politics. The truth is that the Olympics is ALL about politics and always has been, since WWII, since the Cold War and probably even before.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    The response of Ukraine to this threatened boycott is reminiscent of what one would expect from the former Soviet Union. All bluster and self-serving rhetoric, with no substance. Ms. Tymoshenko is undoubtedly a noisy pain in the backside, but throwing her in jail on flimsy charges shows the Ukraine still has a long ways to go before it has a true democracy. Europeans must stand firm on this issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    It should be boycotted,of course!

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    The politicians in power in Ukraine are behaving like a bunch of animals. The way they are treating a lady in prison is despicable. These brutes should be made to understand that in modern politics, there has to be respect to any enemy and that if there is any wrongdoing, there are courts to deal with the situation. I for one won't be watching the Euro 2012 if the Julia T fiasco is not sorted.

  • Comment number 145.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    The new stadium in Kyiv is the old stadium, taken to pieces, put back toge3ther abd repainted

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    EURO 2012 ought to boycotted in total. This is a vile criminal Moscow directed regime whose intention is to use EURO 2012 to legitimize itself. To hell with EURO 2012 the sky will not fall if is boycotted. The Yanukovich regime wants to add a veneer of innocence to cover up its KGB police state tactics and distract attention from Moscow's annexation of Ukraine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    >Railrunner: This woman was imprisoned because She had had great success in rooting out corrupt practices by politicians and energy industry oligarchs in cahoots with Russian Mafia gangs.
    Yes, and with the help and assistance of her boss and close colleague Lazarenko, who was caught by US with a forged passport and is serving his 9-year sentence in CA, for helping YT achieve those successes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Ukraine: A small bruise on the arm..boycott
    China: Execute thousands every year..Yea...what great Olympics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    > Meanwhile, five European presidents - from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia - have said they will not attend a Ukrainian summit of Central and East European leaders next week in Yalta.

    Good job guys. You are pushing in the right direction - the sooner Uraine coalesces back with Russia, tired of being pushed around by your likes - the better.
    The pretext is laughable!

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Posted below is an excerpt from the ORDER AND OPINION No 06-10592, D.C. No CR-0-00284MJJ of the US Court of Appeals for the Northern District of California under Martin J. Jenkins, District Judje, presiding, published by US COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT. It upheld the conviction in fraud, money laundering and transportation of stolen property to Y.T.'s associate, P. Lazarenko.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Euro 2012 is already a fiasco..Who knows what else may happen during the games? Better to stay away!

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    @ 134.Mark Morris

    maybe the idiots who assigned Ukraine for the venue should swap rooms with Tymoshenko. I understand UEFA officials & Tymoshenko are quite wealthy, a bit of donation from them to charities supporting hypocrite mental disorders would be a nice gesture for many of the readers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Opinion by Judge McKeown:
    According to the indictment, an associate of Lazarenko's, Yulia Timoshenko, created a natural gas company, ..."UESU", ... held in large part by "UEIL", ... UESU conveyed title from Ukrainian customers ... to UEIL. UEIL did not pay for the gaz deliveries ... Instead it transferred approximately $140 million to a Cypriot company, ... controlled, in part, by Tymoshenko.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Much to do about politics; and those politicians stick together .. Elite, not just kissing the Elites where sun d. sh .. people in prisons get demised? Tymoshenko ?? "East is east West is west and never the twain shall meet"? The dogs of Ukraine .. not just ' the pigs' ...ah. Lots of 'wild' dogs, stopped many times by 'pigs' .. most well behaved dogs and pigs anywhere .. hypocritical Westerners!

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    We dealing with the symptom, that is, dealing with these countries in the first place. The root cause was to effectively select a venue that was fit for purpose. Is the Ukraine 'fit for purpose?'

    Some idiot chose them and now look where we are!

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    @ 131.squirrel

    the chinese will simply ignore you as usual, they're too busy buying luxury goods (european inc. British) and have enough sports events to worry about. They REALLY don't need any of your gestures.

    By the way, have you noticed that the Chinese have NEVER threatened to attack Europe, but Russia and radical muslims have?

    Isn't it amazing that china-bashers like you are ok with that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    we can solve this by abolishing UEFA & banning football in europe. Tymoshenko's predicament can be handled through the next european badminton championship.


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