When political affairs meet the sports world
British senior officials will not attend Euro 2012 matches played in Ukraine amid controversy over the country’s human rights record.
There is concern about the treatment given to the jailed opposition leader (and former prime minister) Yulia Tymoshenko. The Foreign Office confirmed that no ministers would attend England’s group stage matches to be played in Donetsk and Kyiv, according to reports from The Guardian.
Nevertheless, The Telegraph reports the Foreign Office said government fully supports the England team’s participation in the tournament.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry stated:
There are multiple channels to express the British position as far as the Tymoshenko case is concerned. It has already been done in a clear and consistent way.
The boycott of the sporting event that has nothing to do with politics is a sign that the British government is inclined to resort to emotional rather than deeply calculated steps. [They] damage football but don’t influence in any positive way the situation with the issue that concerns London: Oleg Voloshyn.
Yulia Tymoshenko (age 51), charged with abuse of office, was imprisoned last year after what supporters claim was a show trial. The former prime minister staged a hunger strike in April after photos appeared showing bruises on her body. She has accused prison guards of assaulting her.
Her case, regarding a contract signed with Russia over natural gas imports, has been deemed as selective justice and political persecution by several European countries, including Germany, Italy and Spain.
June 7th, 2012.