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Summit canceled as Ukraine isolation deepens over treatment of Tymoshenko

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Anatolii Stepanov/Reuters

(Read caption) A woman is seen in a tent for supporters of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev, Monday, May 7. Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last October for 'abuse of office' while she was prime minister.

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In a stinging humiliation that underscores Ukraine's increasing isolation, President Viktor Yanukovych today bowed to a boycott by a dozen European leaders angry over treatment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, indefinitely postponing a prestigious summit meeting it was to have hosted this week in the Crimean resort of Yalta.

"Due to the fact that a number of European heads of states are unable to attend the summit of presidents of the Central European Countries in Yalta, Ukraine found it reasonable to postpone it until a later date," Alexander Dykusarov, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a terse statement.

The event was meant to showcase Ukraine's growing integration into the European community, and to set the stage for Ukraine's co-hosting, along with Poland, of the Euro 2012 soccer championships – a huge event in the life of all Europeans – next month.

Instead, the growing impression is that Ukraine is falling out of the European orbit and drifting back into Moscow's embrace.

Leaders of Germany, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, and others have refused to attend the annual regional meeting in an escalating row over the alleged mistreatment of Ms. Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison last October for "abuse of office" while she was prime minister. She also faces a fresh trial on charges of alleged tax evasion, which is scheduled to open in a Kharkov court later this month.

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