Tymoshenko ends prison hunger strike in Ukraine

Thursday 12 December 2013 10.55
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Yulia Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for abuse of office over a gas deal signed with Russia
Yulia Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for abuse of office over a gas deal signed with Russia
Popping in on Putin: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich meeting Russian leader on way home from China says report
Popping in on Putin: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich meeting Russian leader on way home from China says report

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has ended a hunger strike after 12 days, according to her daughter Yevgenia.  

Former prime minister Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for abuse of office over a gas deal signed with Russia.

She had announced a hunger strike in support of opposition protests against the Ukrainian government's decision to spurn a landmark trade pact with the European Union.
              
"At the request of the square, she has ended the hunger strike," Yevgenia said, referring to the protest camp on Kiev's Independence Square.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych is stopping off in Russia for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Yanukovych had been due to return home today to his troubled country after a four-day official visit to China.

Ukraine is in turmoil following his government's decision to pull back from a landmark pact with the EU and to opt instead to align trade policy closer towards Russia.

Thousands of pro-EU and anti-government demonstrators remain encamped on Kiev's main Independence Square and have occupied public buildings. 

Huge rallies have also seen clashes between police and protesters angry at President Yanukovych's policy U-turn. 

There is strong speculation that he has struck a bargain with Mr Putin for supplies of cheaper Russian gas and possibly credits in return for dropping the EU trade pact. 

In Moscow there was no immediate confirmation of the meeting between the two leaders in Sochi on Russia's Black Sea coast. 

Ukraine needs help with $17 billion (€12.5 billion) in debt repayments and Russian gas bills next year.

In Beijing, Mr Yanukovych announced deals which may bring $8 billion (€5.9 billion) in Chinese investment but these are unlikely to meet the economy's short-term cash needs.

Anti-government figures claimed that striking any new agreement with Mr Putin now would inflame protests further. 

A former economy minister who is now an opposition leader, Arseny Yatsenyuk, warned of more turmoil if there are further steps taken towards entering the Russian-led customs union which Moscow wants Ukraine to join.

In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev rebuked German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle for visiting a protest encampment on Kiev's Independence Square.