KIEV Ukraine has put off a planned summit of Eastern European leaders, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday, after a number of them declined to attend in protest over the treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
"Due to the inability of some European state leaders to take part in the summit ... Ukraine considers it sensible to delay the summit and not to hold it in the city of Yalta on May 11-12," the ministry said in a statement.
It said it would announce new dates later.
In a move that could foreshadow similar action during the Euro-2012 soccer championship which Ukraine co-hosts with Poland next month, at least eight European presidents have refused to attend the planned summit.
Most of them have said this was due to the treatment of Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and a fierce critic of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
She was sentenced to seven years in prison last October for alleged abuse-of-office which she denied. The European Union says her conviction was politically motivated.
Some of those who had planned to attend the summit, among them Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, said they had intended to raise Tymoshenko's case with Yanukovich.
"President Komorowski was planning to go to Yalta to appeal to President Yanukovich for changes in the Ukrainian laws that would make sentencing for political activity on the basis of criminal law impossible," Komorowski's spokeswoman Joanna Trzaska-Wieczorek said.
(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Maria Golovnina)