5 May 2012

Politics and sport should not mix - Putin

5:40 am on 5 May 2012

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has entered a growing row over Ukraine's co-hosting of the European football championships later this year, saying politics and sport should not mix.

Nine European leaders are shunning a Central European summit hosted by the former Soviet republic this month in a show of displeasure at the plight of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike in prison.

The presidents of Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have all said they would not attend the gathering in Yalta to be hosted by President Viktor Yanukovich on 11-12 May.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said he had no plans to visit Ukraine because of Mr Tymoshenko.

Ukraine is to co-host the European soccer championship next month.

"I think that under no circumstances should one mix politics, business and other issues with sports," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Mr Putin as saying. "One should leave sports alone."

Ms Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison last October for abuse of office.

A series of European politicians have said they'll boycott the event because of the way the Ukrainian government has been treating the jailed former prime minister Yulia Timoschenko who's currently on .

The BBC's Daniel Sandford reports from the Ukrainian capital Kiev :


IN:......(sfx) at kiev's main....

OUT:...politics and sport


Daniel Sandford in Ukraine.