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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Freed Kiev Politican in the Hospital

KIEV — A leading critic of President Leonid Kuchma was recovering in the hospital Wednesday after spending six weeks in a grim jail.

Julia Tymoshenko, leader of the Batkivshchyna party, was freed Tuesday after a court ruled prosecutors had no grounds to jail her ahead of a trial on corruption charges.

Before her detention in February, Tymoshenko, 40, was a key member of a Forum for National Salvation, one of several groups calling for Kuchma to resign over allegations he was involved in the murder of a journalist. Kuchma denies the charge.

"For obvious reasons we're not saying where she's being treated. She's feeling very bad right now," Batkivshchyna spokesman Petro Yakobchuk said. He said she had a stomach ulcer.

"From the very beginning this was a politically motivated process," said Olexander Turchinov, a close ally of Tymoshenko's and the leader of her party's 30 seats in the 450-strong parliament.

"[The release] is a victory, but unfortunately I expect new provocations from prosecutors," he said.

Tymoshenko, sacked by Kuchma from the government in January, denies charges of bribery, forgery and smuggling and accuses Kuchma of seeking to create a totalitarian state.

While her imprisonment in the Lukyanovska jail prompted widespread sympathy for the charismatic politician, many Ukrainians say she should answer questions about her post as head of a gas trading firm in the mid-1990s when prosecutors accuse her of bribing a disgraced former prime minister with $79 million.

As deputy prime minister, Tymoshenko said she fought to clean up the notoriously corrupt energy sector. According to Tymoshenko, this upset the interests of powerful businessmen close to Kuchma and prompted her detention.

Following her dismissal, she accused Kuchma of widespread corruption and joined the ranks of nationalists, socialists and human rights activists who accused the president of involvement in the death of reporter Georgy Gongadze.

Gongadze's headless corpse was found outside Kiev in November and Olexander Moroz, leader of the Socialist Party, spearheaded calls for Kuchma to resign after publishing tapes of a voice like Kuchma's ordering officials to get rid of Gongadze.

Moroz said he thought Tymoshenko's release was timed to coincide with a three-day fact-finding visit to Kiev by a delegation from the rights and democracy body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.