Ukraine envoy 'regrets' UK move on Euro 2012

Ukraine's ambassador to London on Friday criticised a decision by British ministers not to attend group stage games of Euro 2012 because of concerns about "selective justice" in Ukraine.

"As far as that being a reason for not attending, this is something I don't understand since I believe that sport and politics, they don't mix," Volodymyr Khandogiy told BBC radio ahead of the tournament's first game.

"I definitely regret that they had chosen not to go and support at least morally their team in Ukraine."

In a statement Thursday, Britain's Foreign Office said ministers would not attend the group stages.

"We are keeping attendance at later stages of the tournament under review in the light of ministers' busy schedules ahead of the Olympics and widespread concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in Ukraine," said a spokeswoman.

England have been drawn in Group D -- being contested in Ukraine -- along with the hosts, France and Sweden.

Khandogiy said Friday, "I would say that there are plenty of opportunities and plenty of fora and formats where we can discuss those issues, actually, which we do in the Council of Europe, the European Union...

"We are ready to continue those discussions, we are ready to accept criticisms but we would like to put our perspective on those issues as well."

Anger is running high across Europe over the treatment of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Other governments have put pressure on Ukraine, co-hosts of the 2012 European Championships along with Poland, whose team takes on Greece in the opening match later Friday.

"The Tymoshenko case is still in the judicial domain. It's not yet over," Khandogiy said.

Tymoshenko has appealed against her seven-year jail term on charges of abuse of power, and there are also concerns for her health.

Paris announced last month that the French cabinet would boycott Euro 2012 matches in Ukraine in protest at her treatment.

European Union commissioners will not attend games in Ukraine and the German development minister has also cancelled his planned visit on human rights concerns.

Kiev has also faced claims there is a risk of racism and violence from far-right gangs.

A BBC documentary last month showed footage of Polish and Ukrainian fans making Nazi salutes and monkey chants. It also uncovered cases of anti-Semitism and a serious assault on a group of Asian students.

Khandogiy labelled the programme "biased and unfair" and urged that fans be allowed to attend matches in Ukraine before judging its society.

"I would say that let us wait and see and let us wait for those people who will go to Ukraine... they will go there, they will enjoy the tournament and they will come back, and let us ask them what their feelings were," he said.

He acknowledged instances of "intolerable behaviour" but said specific cases should be investigated rather than "generalise about the problem".

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