Ukraine leader asks for warm welcome

Ukraine leader asks for warm welcome

Published Jun. 7, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Ukraine's president called on his countrymen to give a warm welcome to visitors during the European Championship, in the face of concerns over racism at football matches and criticism over a political opponent's imprisonment.

Viktor Yanukovych hailed his country's success in preparing for the tournament. He also congratulated his country on building roads, stadiums and airports for Euro 2012 and called on his citizens Thursday in a televised address to exhibit ''our Ukrainian hospitality, sincerity and friendliness.''

Yanukovych has faced criticism over the jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year term on charges of abuse of office, condemned as politically motivated by the West.

Britain joined other EU officials in refusing to attend early Euro 2012 matches hosted by Ukraine over the Tymoshenko case.