Ukraine’s ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko is ill and in constant pain, Canadian doctors who examined her in prison said, adding that authorities denied her key blood and toxicology tests.

A team of Western doctors went last week to the prison where Ms Tymoshenko is held to examine the opposition leader amid complaints about her treatment and health.

The three Canadian and two German medics included a cardiologist and a nervous system expert, the former Soviet republic’s penitentiary system said in a statement.

“After meeting and examining Ms Tymoshenko, it was the Canadian opinion that she required confidential blood and toxicology testing,” doctor Peter Kujtan said in a letter to Ukraine’s ambassador in Ottawa, Troy Lulashnyk.

The medical team had been invited by Ukraine to carry out the examination and even brought along diagnostic equipment which could produce on-the-spot test results, Dr Kujtan said.

“But Ukrainian authorities refused to allow its use, stating that we would be breaking several laws of the land and could face prosecution,” he said.

“The authorities also prevented the collection of any specimens vital for analysis.”

“Ms Tymoshenko was in full agreement and requested the confidential and independent testing. Any reports that she refused independent testing are false.

“We believe that this lady is ill and in constant pain and requires toxicology and other laboratory testing,” Dr Kutjan added.

The Toronto area doctor also said the medical team expressed concerns about injected substances she received that are banned in Canada.

The Ukrainian health ministry said the charges did not reflect reality.

“Accusations against Ukrainian authorities are unfounded as the government ensured that all conditions were met for the medical commission to do its work effectively,” according to the ministry, which said Ms Tymoshenko had refused blood tests. The ministry also said the patient was administered only medicine allowed in Ukraine.

The leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution was sentenced in October to seven years in jail for abuse of power while prime minister in a case taken up just months after she lost a close election to President Viktor Yanukovych.

Ms Tymoshenko’s conviction was followed almost immediately by new charges of financial crimes that could keep her in prison even if the original case against her is overturned.

The European Union has backed her claims that the case was political and has delayed the signing of an agreement that could pave the way for Ukraine’s eventual membership in the bloc.

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