Several leading European Union officials are considering boycotting Euro 2012 matches as a protest against Ukraine’s human rights record.
EU president Jose Manuel Barroso is the highest profile person to have stated he would not travel to the country. "It is clear that as things stand now, the president has no intention of going to Ukraine or indeed participate in events in Ukraine," Barroso's spokeswoman said.
Within hours of the announcement Barroso was joined by EU's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. “You cannot close your eyes on human rights, even during a great sporting celebration,” Reding told reporters.
Activists have called for protests against Ukraine where jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been imprisoned on what critics claim were politically-motivated charges. Tymoshenko has been complaining of maltreatment for a while and it is claimed she needs medical treatment which is being withheld.
At the weekend Der Spiegel reported Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel would stay away from matches and had urged her cabinet members to follow her lead. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused Merkel of “reanimating the methods of the Cold War and try to make sport a hostage to politics”.