UK ministers boycott Euro 2012 games in Ukraine

 

Ministers are boycotting the initial stages of the Euro 2012 football championship over concerns about human rights in Ukraine.

The Foreign Office said the government "fully supported" the England team's participation in the tournament.

But no ministers will be attending group stage matches in Ukraine amid anger over the treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

The move comes after other European countries including Germany and France announced that senior politicians would boycott games played in Ukraine - which is co-hosting the event with Poland - unless the human rights situation under President Viktor Yanukovych improved.

Ms Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years 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.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has previously indicated that attendance by ministers was under review.

A statement released by his department today said: "The Government fully supports England's participation in Euro 2012. We hope this is a successful tournament for the England team, the fans and the people of Ukraine and Poland.

"No ministers will be attending group games at Euro 2012.

"We are keeping attendance at later stages of the tournament under review in the light of ministers' busy schedules ahead of the Olympics and widespread concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in Ukraine."

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: "The case of Yulia Tymoshenko casts a real shadow over Ukraine.

"The circumstances of her trial and the treatment she is receiving in custody are matters of grave concern that must be immediately addressed.

"It is right that UK ministers will not be attending the championships and the Government should take care that none of their actions over the next few weeks are seen to endorse the conduct of the Government of Ukraine."

PA

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