Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Nina Karpachova has confirmed that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is indeed sick and that she is being held in the same conditions as other inmates at the Lukyanivsky pretrial detention center.
"I met with Ms. Yulia Tymoshenko yesterday. It is true that she is ill now," Karpachova said at a press conference in Kyiv on Friday.
Tymoshenko is experiencing "throat problems and can hardly speak," Karpachova said. In addition, she said it was obvious that "she has a fever."
Tymoshenko is sharing a cell with three other women. "All the bunks are occupied, some of the women being in transit [placed there briefly on their way from one prison to another]," she said.
The cell in which Tymoshenko is being held is about 12-14 square meters in size with quite a big bathroom, Karpachova said. "There is little free space there. This cell was earlier used as a utility room," she said.
Hence, the conditions in which Tymoshenko is being held "are not luxurious, because all the bunks there are occupied," although there is a fridge and a TV set in the cell, "which is not prohibited."
Karpachova said her meeting with Tymoshenko lasted for more than an hour and a half. "We had a serious conversation on problems of inmates, and she was trying to insist that her arrest was unlawful," she said.
Karpachova said the ex-premier had asked her to inform not only the political leadership but also the public about this.
The human rights commissioner said she again asked Justice Rodion Kireyev presiding at Tymoshenko's trial to allow Tymoshenko's doctor to examine her.
"She [Tymoshenko] yesterday once again signed a paper confirming her refusal to be examined by Health Ministry officials," Karpachova said.
Tymoshenko is insisting on being examined and treated by her personal doctor, Karpachova said. "She is entitled to medical examination but has been deprived of this right," she said.
Karpachova also pointed to a low level of medical services at the Lukyanivsky detention center. In particular, 47 inmates suffering from active tuberculosis are currently held at the infirmary, she said. Since the detention center is overcrowded, some inmates have to receive medical aid right in the cells, she said.
"This directly threatens not only the inmates' but also the detention center personnel's health," she said.
Karpachova suggested that the Lukyanivsky detention center is overcrowded as the law enforcement officials and judges overuse arrest as a pretrial restriction measure. While the facility is designed for 2,850 inmates, 3,800 are actually being held there now, she said.