German clinic says Tymoshenko left, will return to Kiev

BERLIN (AFP) - Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko left a German clinic on Wednesday after treatment for severe back pain and plans to return to Kiev, the hospital said.

Ms Tymoshenko, a leader of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004, has been undergoing medical care for herniated discs at Berlin's renowned Charite university hospital since March 7.

"Yulia Tymoshenko wants to go back to Kiev today," hospital spokesman Uwe Dolderer said in a statement, announcing her discharge from the clinic.

He said Ms Tymoshenko had twice received injections to the vertebral column in recent days.

The first led to a short-term improvement but the second had produced "an up to now persistently clear reduction of the pain" and improved function in her right leg, he said.

The hospital has recommended she continue her rehabilitation in Ukraine and use crutches until she is fully recovered, he added.

Ms Tymoshenko, 53, was freed from prison on February 23, having served three years of a seven-year sentence for abuse of power, a charge she always denied.

Her release came in the immediate aftermath of the ousting of her rival, Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, after three months of protests by pro-EU demonstrators.

Immediately after her release, she appeared in a wheelchair in Kiev's Independence Square to deliver a stirring speech to the protesters.

Ms Tymoshenko's relationship with the Berlin hospital goes back several years.

A team of its doctors was given permission to examine her in April 2012 while she was imprisoned, although their recommendation to treat her in Germany was never accepted by Kiev.