The daughter of Ukraine's jailed and ailing ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko said Tuesday her mother was ending her 19-day hunger strike while still urging EU leaders to boycott her country.
The announcement came only hours after Ukraine was forced to shelve plans to host a regional summit after most of the participants pulled out in protest over the treatment of the 2004 Orange Revolution leader.
The opposition leader's 32-year-old daughter Yevgenia said her mother had agreed to be hospitalised in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Wednesday so that German neurologist Lutz Harms can "begin bringing (her) out of her hunger strike".
President Viktor Yanukovych's great 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 West's anger intensified when Tymoshenko began a fast after claiming to have been dragged against her will to a local hospital for treatment of a bad back that was keeping her from attending her new trial.
That hearing -- now suspended until May 21 -- can theoretically extend her time in prison until 2023. Tymoshenko claims fearing being poisoned or infected by local hospital doctors.
Her daughter said the decision to end the hunger strike was taken in consultation with the visiting German medics and that the full recovery period from such a long stretch without food lasted "up to two weeks".
"It is impossible to start treatment immediately because of the hunger strike," Yevgenia Tymoshenko said.
The decision however is unlikely to ease Europe's anger over Tymoshenko's treatment and comes amid the first signs of a growing EU boycott of the country making its first tangible impact.
Ukraine had earlier in the day been forced to cancel a Central European summit it was to begin hosting on Friday in the Crimean resort of Yalta after most of the participants pulled out.
The event was meant to be a Ukrainian showpiece one month before Ukraine co-hosts Euro 2012 football with Poland.
But the foreign ministry said it was postponing the meeting "in connection with the fact that a number of European leaders are unable to take part in the Yalta summit for different reasons."
Yanukovych had been facing the prospects of hosting an embarrassingly lonely summit after at least 10 EU leaders let it officially be known that they could not attend.
EU heavyweight Germany was the first country to announce a boycott and was followed by the likes of Italy and the Czech Republic. Ukraine's Euro co-host Poland had steadfastly insisted that it would attend.
The EU Commission has said all its commissioners would also boycott matches hosted by Ukraine in the Euro itself while Germany has made clear that its officials' attendance depended on Tymoshenko's fate.
The 51-year-old urged Europe in an emotional letter issued exactly one month before the first match is played in co-host Poland to continue piling pressure on Yanukovych because "Ukraine may simply never have fair elections again."
"The people of Ukraine cannot fight (the Yanukovych government) on their own," she wrote.
Ukraine had hoped that the Euro would be the perfect shop window for the country but analysts have said the event risks becoming a fiasco as the government's image goes from bad to worse.
Its public relations nightmare continued when a newspaper owned by billionaire Rinat Akhmetov -- a long-time patron of Yanukovych -- had to apologise for printing an editorial that said Germany had not changed since the Third Reich.
The article last week in the top-selling Segodnya newspaper said the Germany of Chancellor Angela Merkel was no different from the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.
"The comparison between modern Germany and Nazi Germany made by the author was neither appropriate nor justified," the paper's acting editor-in-chief Olga Guk wrote in a statement on Segodnya's website.© ANP/AFP