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KIEV, April 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Former Prime Minister and opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party leader Yulia Timoshenko is serving her term in a penal colony in Kharkov in such conditions that many prisoners can only dream of, her former cell mate Yulia Abaplova said in an interview published by the newspaper Pravo (Law) on Saturday, April 28.
“These are totally different conditions. People in jail and probably those at large can only dream of such conditions. Where else in prison will you find a microwave, a fridge, a shower, a plasma TV, furniture, tableware, and so on and so forth?” Abaplova said.
The woman said she had been excited about being Timoshenko’s cell mate at first, but then started experiencing physical and moral discomfort living with her. “I asked for a transfer for another cell because I was afraid of getting drawn into political intrigues. Before prison I had my own life and did not pay much attention to politics. But here I was suddenly drawn into this whirlpool and realised that everyone wanted to use me in their own ways,” Abaplova said.
When asked about Timoshenko’s health, she said the former prime minister had in fact often complained about back pains and was planning last week to go to a railway hospital chosen for her treatment by the Health Ministry but then changed her mind. “She did plan to go to hospital, that’s for sure,” Abaplova said. “She asked me to collect her things. I did and put them by the exit. I simply cannot understand what happened after that. I am not an expert in politics. Maybe she needed this for some reason,” she added.
Abaplova is not sure that Timoshenko, who announced a hunger strike last Friday, April 20, is not eating. “The fridge was full of food. What hunger strike in a cell with food? Yulia Vladimirovna [Timoshenko] likes good food and she takes care of herself,” the woman said.
According to Abaplova, Timoshenko constantly gets fresh food and dishes from expensive restaurants. “She gets very fresh and expensive food all the time, very many foods and dishes with labels of expensive restaurants and cafes. Drinking water is brought for her. They bring whatever food she orders,” the ex-mate said.
She also said that Timoshenko writes profusely on weekends and stays away from doing any chores. “On weekends she writes for a long time at the kitchen table, and I do all the cleaning and other chores. She does not help me. On the contrary, she asks me to make tea and often lies in bed. She is sort of sick and says that she has back pains. I tried to help her and even helped her dye her hair even though hair dye is a taboo in prison, but apparently the administration turned a blind eye to that,” she said.
Abaplova, former head of a Kharkov-based branch of a big bank, was Timoshenko’s cell mate since her first day at the Kachanivska penal colony. Abaplova was sentenced in September 2011 to seven years with seizure of property.
The State Penitentiary Service said that Abaplova was transferred to another cell on the basis of her personal request.
However Timoshenko’s supporters say that Abaplova was transferred to “a worse cell” because she had refused to sign a statement claiming that the bruises on Timoshenko’s body were a result of their fight.
Timoshenko announced a hunger strike on April 20 after the colony personnel had purportedly used physical force against her when taking her to the railway hospital for examination.