U.S. Secretary of State Clinton expresses concern for Tymoshenko

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday expressed her concern for the treatment of imprisoned Ukrainian opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was allegedly assaulted by guards last month.

Clinton said the American government is 'deeply concerned' by the treatment of Tymoshenko and other imprisoned members of her former government. "The photographs of Mrs. Tymoshenko released by the Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman further call into question the conditions of her confinement," she said, urging Ukrainian authorities to ensure that the former leader receives immediate medical assistance in an appropriate facility.

Photos of Tymoshenko became public last week in which she is seen showing bruises on her body after claiming she has been physically abused by prison guards while being transferred from Kachanivska women's penal colony No.54 in Kharkiv to the Ukrzaliznytsia Central Clinical Hospital in Kharkiv in order to receive treatment for a severe spinal condition. Reports indicate that she has been diagnosed with a herniated spinal disc.

Clinton on Tuesday also called for U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft to be given access to Tymoshenko. "We continue to call for her release, the release of other members of her former government and the restoration of their full civil and political rights," Clinton added.

Tymoshenko, 51, is serving a seven-year term for abuse of power in connection with a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She was accused of illegally forcing state energy company Naftogaz to sign a gas supply contract with Russian gas company Gazprom in 2009, which the new government says required approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Tymoshenko has claimed her trial is politically motivated and an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovych, who narrowly beat her in the presidential election in February 2010, to bar her from future elections. The international community has largely condemned her trial and called for her immediate release.

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