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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 18:19 GMT
Ukraine opposition leader injured
Yulia Timoshenko's car
The crash came as Mrs Timoshenko was driving to court
A top Ukrainian opposition leader and arch-critic of President Leonid Kuchma is reported to have been seriously injured in a car crash in the capital, Kiev.

Yulia Timoshenko, who heads a coalition of groups opposed to Mr Kuchma, suffered injuries to the head and chest when a car collided with her vehicle in the centre of the city.

Her condition is said to be serious but not life-threatening. Doctors expect her to spend at least two weeks in hospital recovering from concussion, a party official told a news conference.

She was on her way to court to contest a travel ban confining her to Kiev - which restricts her campaigning ahead of March parliamentary elections - when the accident occurred.

The ban was imposed last year during an investigation into allegations of corruption - charges which Mrs Timoshenko says are politically motivated.

Credible voice

Mrs Timoshenko was dismissed as the country's deputy prime minister last year after prosecutors filed the charges, which include smuggling Russian gas, forging documents, and tax fraud.

Yulia Timoshenko
She demanded Kuchma's resignation over the murder of a journalist
She was imprisoned in a jail outside Kiev after her arrest in February, and spent weeks recovering in hospital after she was released in April.

An investigation into the charges continues.

Despite the allegations, Mrs Timoshenko has retained support among Ukrainian voters, and her coalition is expected to win between four and 10% of the vote in the 31 March election.

The group, which currently holds 26 seats in Ukraine's 450-seat parliament, is fiercely opposed to Mr Kuchma's presidency,

Mrs Timoshenko was one of one of the most prominent voices who called for Mr Kuchma's resignation last year, after a decapitated body was identified as that of a missing opposition journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

The case brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets calling for Mr Kuchma to step down.

One of Ukraine's leading opposition politicians, Vyacheslav Chornovil - leader of the Rukh movement - died in a car crash in 1999, in circumstances which some observers regarded as suspicious.

See also:

29 May 01 | Europe
Ukraine lobbyist becomes PM
25 Jan 02 | Europe
Name game mars Ukraine election
26 Apr 01 | Europe
Ukraine Government falls
03 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ukraine
28 Sep 01 | Europe
Timeline: Ukraine
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