2012-Visit-Kharkiv-Habsburg Douglas-MecacciKHARKIV, Ukraine, 30 October 2012 (Русский) – Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Walburga Habsburg Douglas (MP, Sweden) and OSCE PA human rights committee chair Matteo Mecacci (MP, Italy) today were denied access to a previously approved meeting with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at a hospital in Kharkiv.

Habsburg Douglas had intended to hand-deliver a copy of the preliminary statement from the international election observation mission and discuss issues related to Sunday's parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Habsburg Douglas served as the OSCE's special co-ordinator to lead the observer mission.

Ukrainian authorities had helped to facilitate the meeting, which was scheduled for 13:00 today, but the delegation was informed just before their arrival at the hospital that due to the fact Tymoshenko is on a hunger strike, the meeting could not take place. The meeting was facilitated by Ukrainian authorities at the request of Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence. Tymoshenko announced Monday that she would begin a hunger strike in protest of the elections.

"I regret the fact that Ms. Tymoshenko was prevented from meeting us to exchange views about the elections," said Habsburg Douglas. "I am aware of some of her allegations regarding fraudulent activity on election day, and I intended to discuss with her the findings of the election observation mission. Ukraine is going to take over the OSCE Chairmanship in two months. It is disconcerting when the incoming Chairmanship is not fulfilling their OSCE commitments."

Mecacci added, "Government authorities all over the world should welcome when political leaders choose nonviolence to continue their struggle. Instead, in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, the authorities are denying her the right to meet visitors, because she decided to start a hunger strike. Tymoshenko is being punished not because she broke a rule while in detention, but because she refused to eat. I hope the Ukrainian authorities will correct this serious mistake very soon."

In the past year, OSCE PA has consistently called on the Ukrainian authorities to uphold their democratic and human rights commitments with special attention to the fact that in January 2013 Ukraine is taking over the Chairmanship of the OSCE.

Mecacci and Habsburg Douglas both observed the vote in Kyiv on Sunday. OSCE observers were allowed to observe the voting process in the Kharkiv hospital and see Ms. Tymoshenko cast her ballot in the parliamentary elections on Sunday.