Ukraine confident of Euro 2012 despite political criticism

KIEV: Ukraine, on Wednesday, insisted it was on track to host Euro 2012 football despite a growing number of EU leaders pledging to boycott the event in protest at Kiev’s treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko.

Austria announced that no member of its government will be attending games in Ukraine in a gesture of solidarity with the jailed ex-prime minister while media reports have also said a similar move is being considered by Germany.

“Uefa (Europe’s football body) has made no serious criticism about Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov told AFP.

“The tournament is ready and on May 11 we will be transferring the control of the four stadia to Uefa,” he added, declining to comment specifically on the boycott threats.

Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years in October on charges of abuse of power while in office, after a trial that was bitterly criticised by the West as appearing politically motivated.

The controversy as intensified in recent weeks as the countdown begins to the championships, with Tymoshenko now in the 13th day of a hunger strike and claiming to have been beaten by guards at her prison in Kharkiv.

Some EU member state MPs have even suggested that Ukraine should be stripped of the right to hold the championships – which it is hosting jointly with Poland – and media reports in Spain said it could be held there.

Ukraine’s parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn angrily dismissed the idea.

“The Euro 2012 is to be held in Ukraine and Poland. Full stop. Or an exclamation mark if you like,” he said, quoted by the parliament press service.

“It is not right to whip up negativism and fear,” he added. “Everything is going fine, although no-one is going to say that we have no problems.”

President Viktor Yanukovych insists he has nothing to do with the prosecution of Tymoshenko but the former leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution accuses him of pursuing a political vendetta against her.

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