Euro 2012 Organizer Brushes Off Boycott Threat© RIA Novosti. Igor Chekachkov
Yulia Tymoshenko© Photo Official Facebook account of Yulia Tymoshenko
MOSCOW, May 2 (RIA Novosti)
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There is no prospect of moving any Euro 2012 matches out of Ukraine due to appease governments concerned at the country's treatment of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a tournament organizer was reported as saying Wednesday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly threatened last week to ban her ministers from attending the summer competition after photographs appeared to back up claims that Tymoshenko, an opponent of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, had been beaten in jail.
Since then, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has also vowed to stay away from the tournament, and Dutch media reported that members of the royal family may also snub the event unless Tymoshenko's situation improves.
It has all sparked speculation that the matches in Ukraine may be moved to another country.
But Michal Listkiewicz, a tournament coordinator and former Polish football union president, said UEFA "is not even considering the possibility of changing the timing or place of the tournament."
"Even if some politicians wont attend Euro 2012 matches, that won't be a matter of a great importance," Listkiewicz was quoted as saying to Polish sports news agency Asinfo.
"These are the fans and the players who are the most important."
In October, Tymoshenko, 52, was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office in what Western governments claim was a politically motivated trial. Held at a penal colony in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, she has been on a hunger strike since April 20, and faces another trial on embezzlement charges.
Ukraine is co-hosting the tournament with Poland. It starts June 8 in Warsaw.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.