Jail staff claim threats of violence from Tymoshenko camp

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April 28, 2012, 8:39 p.m. |
Officials at the Kachanivska Correctional Colony, the prison in Kharkiv where former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is serving her sentence, have asked law enforcement officials to protect their families because of alleged threats of violence, the State Penitentiary Service said on Saturday. "Constant numerous visits to the Kachanivska Colony by people's deputies [lawmakers] have destabilized the routine of the institution. There have been confirmed instances of unjustified grievances and threats of violence against institution personnel and members of their families," the service said in a statement.

"For this reason, employees of the penitentiary have filed applications with prosecution services and the police to protect family members of individual colony officials and institute a criminal investigation into the threats of violence," it said.

The service said Andriy Kovalenko, first deputy head of the prison, was one of those who had allegedly received threats.

Kovalenko "is not hiding and is carrying out his duties," the service said.

Tymoshenko's defense lawyers and daughter had claimed earlier that Kovalenko had hit the former premier in a bid to force her to end a hunger strike.

The Penitentiary Service said in its statement that official investigations "have detected no instance of Tymoshenko being beaten or having physical force used against her."

"Tymoshenko has made no complaints to the hospital. Generally speaking, there has been no case of any special equipment of physical force being used against women convicts over the past few years," the statement said. "Tymoshenko told the head of the institution that she would not declare a hunger strike."
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