Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was on Wednesday moved from her prison to a hospital for treatment by a team including a German doctor, the prisons service said.
The authorities are hoping that Tymoshenko's transfer to a hospital outside the prison will defuse a growing diplomatic crisis over her treatment that threatens to overshadow Ukraine's co-hosting of the Euro 2012 football.
"Tymoshenko was transferred from her penal colony to hospital for a course of treatment recommended by an international medical commission," the prisons service said in a statement.
The prisons service said the former prime minister left her prison in the eastern city of Kharkiv at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and arrived at the hospital, a state establishment run by Ukrainian railways also in Kharkiv, one hour later.
An AFP correspondent saw a motorcade of four cars led by the Ukrainian traffic police on entering the grounds of the hospital at that time. Reporters had earlier been ordered to leave the territory of the hospital.
The prisons service said that during her transfer, Tymoshenko made no complaint about her health. "According to doctors, the state of her health has not deteriorated in the last days."
Kharkiv is one of four Ukrainian cities that will next month jointly host the Euro football with Poland in the biggest showcase for Ukraine since it won independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
President Viktor Yanukovych's arch rival was jailed for seven years in October following an abuse of power trial that was bitterly criticised by the United States and European Union for its political overtones.
The opposition leader's 32-year-old daughter Yevgenia announced on Tuesday her mother had agreed to end a hunger strike and to be admitted to the Kharkiv hospital to be treated by the German doctor Lutz Harms.
Tymoshenko had previously demanded to be treated outside Ukraine, fearing that she could be deliberately infected or poisoned in a Ukrainian establishment.
She is confirmed to be suffering from a herniated disc in her back but supporters say even before her hunger strike she was extremely frail and unable to walk.
Ukraine was on Tuesday was forced to scrap plans to host a regional summit scheduled for later this week after most of the participants pulled out in protest over the treatment of the 2004 Orange Revolution leader.
Amid an escalating diplomatic crisis, all EU commissioners are set to boycott matches hosted by Ukraine in the Euro itself and Germany has not ruled out such a move for its ministers, in what would be a huge blow to Kiev.© ANP/AFP