EEV: Remember If Viktor Yanukovych would of agreed to join the EU none of this would have happened… There really are no winners here. Tymoshenko will most likely introduce Austerity and privatize large parts of the Ukraine as originally negotiated with the EU. Both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko seem to have plenty of skeletons in their closet.
But here is a little look at the other side: Snippet from Wikipedia preludes:
Tymoshenko’s critics have suggested that, as an oligarch, she gained her fortune improperly. Some have speculated that her familiarity with the illegal conduct of business common in Ukraine uniquely qualifies her to combat corruption—if she is willing to do so. Her former business partner, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, was convicted in the United States on charges of money laundering, corruption and fraud, the magnitude of which was in the billions of dollars. However, Judge Martin Jenkins of the US District Court for the Northern District of California on May 7, 2004 dismissed the allegations of Tymoshenko’s involvement in Lazarenko’s murky business.
Her transition from oligarch to reformer was believed by many voters to be both genuine and effective. Discrepancies between her declared income and her seemingly luxurious lifestyle (mostly because of her designer outfits) have been pointed out in the Ukrainian tabloids.
When Tymoshenko joined the Yushchenko government she did not speak Ukrainian. According to fellow Ukrainian politician Borys Tarasyuk in 2002 Tymoshenko “only spoke Russian even when I spoke to her in Ukrainian“, but since then she has made the transition to speaking only Ukrainian.
During her second stint as Prime-Minister her ratings in opinion polls fell. In early 2008 in opinion polls for the Ukrainian presidential election, 2009 she stood at 30% but by late-April 2009 that had shrunk to 15% According to a poll carried out between 29 January and 5 February 2009 by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology just over 43% of the Ukrainian voters believed Tymoshenko should leave her post, whereas just over 45% believed she should stay. According to an opinion poll carried out between 3 and 12 February 2009 by the “Sofia” Center for Social Studies some 59.1% of those polled believed that the activities of (then) Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko where aimed at the defense of her own interests and that of her entourage, some 4.2% said her activities were aimed at the defense of interests of foreign states and some 23.9% believed that Tymoshenko worked for the sake of national interests. 77.7% of the respondents where unsatisfied with the economic policy of the second Tymoshenko Government. Some 71.8% believed that this government was not able to lead the Ukrainian economy out of the 2008–09 Ukrainian financial crisis or even change the situation in Ukraine to better; 18.1% of respondents did think that the government could do that. 1. Despite the neck-to-neck 2010 presidential race, many experts believed that Tymoshenko would win the vote due to her ability to “hike her popularity just before the voting day”. JP Morgan Securities Inc. experts said that Yulia Tymoshenko’s victory in presidential election would “bring stability in 2010, with budget consolidation, better terms of crediting and higher influx of capital. As a result, the economy will have better prospects of growing in the second half of 2010 and 2011”.
Tymoshenko has been ranked three times by Forbes magazine among the most powerful women in the world. During her first term, in 2005 she was ranked third (behind Condoleezza Rice and Wu Yi), in 2008 she was number 17 and in 2009 at number 47. According to the Ukrainian magazine Focus Lady Yu was placed first in annual ranking of the most influential women in Ukraine in 2006–2010 (five years). During the Orange Revolution some Western media publications dubbed her the “Joan of Arc of the Revolution”. Tymoshenko was also dubbed one of the most beautiful women ever to enter politics by the Daily Mail and 20 Minutos in 2009. In December 2011 Tymoshenko’s party BYuT-Batkivschyna nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has stated (in November 2009) he found it comfortable to work with his (then) Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko and also praised her for strengthening Ukrainian sovereignty and building stable ties with Moscow and called the second Tymoshenko Government “efficient and a force for stability”. It has been suggested by Reuters that the Russian government, after seeing her opposition to Viktor Yushchenko, supported her since late 2008, although Putin denied it.
Don’t be fooled by her angelic looks, she’s as ruthless as she’s corrupt: A withering portrait of Ukraine’s ‘saviour’ by EDWARD LUCAS, a Russia expert who knows her well
By Edward Lucas
UPDATED: 20:24 EST, 23 February 2014
Nobody who meets Yulia Tymoshenko forgets the moment. The billionaire Ukrainian politician’s charm is formidable. In a political landscape studded with novices and thugs, she stands out.
Her angelic beauty and two-year detention in jail has attracted worldwide sympathy.
On Saturday, she was released following the overthrow of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in a dramatic coup.
Magnetism: The freed Yulia Tymoshenko addresses the crowds in Kiev on Saturday just hours after she was released from prison following a vote in the Ukrainian parliament
Later that night, Tymoshenko, who has been suffering severe back pain, appeared in a wheelchair in Kiev’s Independence Square, where she made a passionate speech to the 50,000-strong crowd. She called them ‘heroes’ who had removed a ‘cancer’ from the country. She also indicated she would run for president in elections in May.
But the prospect of her political comeback makes me fear for the future of the increasingly unstable and volatile Ukraine.
Mrs Tymoshenko’s immaculate blonde tresses and sometimes kittenish ways have led many macho politicians in the Ukraine — and abroad — to underestimate her. The truth is that her determination is terrifying. Nobody and nothing gets in her way.
When she needs to, she is prepared to use her undeniable sexual magnetism.
Illness: That night, Tymoshenko, who has been suffering severe back pain, appeared in a wheelchair as she addressed the 50,000-strong crowd in Independence Square
Pledge: The former Ukrainian prime minister told reporters as she left hospital that she believed the country’s future lay with the EU
An ambassador once told me that a two-hour journey he spent in her sound-proofed, tinted-window limousine was the most sexually threatening experience of his life.
I have interviewed her many times. Her body language, eyes, coquettish tosses of the head and cooing tones are almost hypnotic. But she is also capable of explosive anger. I have seen her shriek and curse in terrifying eruptions of rage: the kitten turns into a tigress.
Many foreign leaders have been smitten by her. Georgia’s mercurial former President Mikheil Saakashvili was said to have been charmed by her during a helicopter ride which attracted lurid speculation.
But when Russia attacked Georgia in 2008, Tymoshenko, who was at the time Ukraine’s Prime Minister, proved only lukewarm in defence of her former bosom pal.
Appearance: Mrs Tymoshenko’s immaculate blonde tresses and sometimes kittenish ways have led many macho politicians in the Ukraine ¿ and abroad ¿ to underestimate her
Diplomacy: She is even thought to have brought a smile to Vladimir Putin’s stony countenance. He once praised her as someone he could do business with.
She has even brought a smile to Vladimir Putin’s stony countenance. He once praised her as someone he could do business with.
She was close to the billionaire businessman and political adviser Boris Berezovsky, the lisping Machiavelli of the Kremlin who sought refuge in London when he fell out with the Putin regime. ‘Yulia Tymoshenko is the only politician in all Ukraine who understands democracy,’ he told me.
I was unconvinced, though. I had seen at first-hand her approach to politics.
Nobody would doubt her ability to campaign. Having become a billionaire in the energy industry, she can afford the best spin doctors and ‘imidzhmeker’ or image-makers.
And she is a stunning orator.
While giving stump speeches amid widespread (and all too justified) cynicism about politicians, she would open with a dramatic stunt. Falling to her knees and stretching her arms out to her audience, she would declaim: ‘Forgive us! People of Ukraine, forgive us!’
Plea: During the speech on Saturday evening, she asked anti-government demonstrators to keep protesting and told them they had the ‘right to rule’ Ukraine. She had emotional reunion with her daughter Yevgenia (right) as she arrived in the iconic square
But it is when she is in office that the trouble really starts. One reason is her utter inability to work in a team. She has quarrelled with every ally in her 20-year political career. Her communication skills are abominable. Aides and colleagues are expected to guess what she wants and do it. If they get it wrong, she erupts.
She is also prone to irrational, often self-aggrandising flights of fancy. Like many in the former Soviet Union, she believes in horoscopes and psychics.
According to Dmitry Vydrin, formerly a close adviser, she thinks she is the reincarnation of Eva Peron, the late Argentine leader immortalised by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita.
Certainly, her public appearances seem to recreate the appearance and mannerisms of the Argentine strongwoman. Another worry is the overlap between her business and political interests.
Stoney-faced: She made a colossal and rapid fortune in a business that required nerves of steel and in an era when commercial disputes were settled by the crudest of means
Nobody would doubt her entrepreneurial zeal. Raised by a single mother in the gritty conditions of the provincial Soviet Union, she proved herself formidably resourceful. She borrowed 5,000 roubles (the equivalent of £100 but a fortune at the time) to open a chain of underground video clubs that showed pirated Hollywood blockbusters.
Next came a stint bartering computers and household gadgets. She won large government contracts and developed a sideline in exchanging surplus weapons from Ukraine’s military arsenal for Russian fuel.
She made a colossal and rapid fortune in a business that required nerves of steel and in an era when commercial disputes were settled by the crudest of means.
In those economically unstable years, murky connections with officialdom could be a company’s most valuable asset.
For two lucrative years her company United Energy Systems controlled Ukraine’s entire gas imports from Russia. In the former Soviet Union, gas traders could make colossal profits. With the right connections, gas could be acquired cheaply — and sold at a juicy premium.
Ukraine’s heavy industry and hard winters mean gas is consumed in vast amounts. Mrs Tymoshenko became known as the ‘gas princess’. Ukrainians did not mean that as a compliment.
She served as energy minister in the government of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. During that two-year period, £120 billion, according to the United Nations, was looted from Ukraine. Mr Lazarenko is now serving a nine-year prison sentence in America for money-laundering, wire fraud and extortion.
According to court documents, Mr Lazarenko allocated Mrs Tymoshenko concessions which gave her a third of Ukraine’s gas industry — and about a fifth of its GDP.
Mrs Tymoshenko denies all wrongdoing in this and other cases. But many believe that she exemplifies all that is wrong with Ukraine’s political system. It was in 2004, with Ukraine’s Orange Revolution — a protest against a rigged presidential election in which her rival Mr Yanukovych claimed victory — that she blossomed into one of the world’s most recognisable politicians.
Her blonde hair became legendary. Her appearance seemed to be designed to evoke the image of a fairytale princess in Ukrainian folklore. In 2005, she was appointed Prime Minister. But her authoritarian ways and erratic policy-making won few friends.
Ukraine desperately needed solid reforms, of the kind undertaken by successful post-communist countries such as Estonia and Poland.
These countries have built up the institutions needed for a market economy to function properly. They are now well-regarded members of the European Union and Nato. However, Ukraine — misruled by its political class ever since it gained independence in 1991 — is not even in the waiting room.
For her part, Mrs Tymoshenko showed no sign of grasping the size of the reforms needed, or how to begin implementing them.
Image: Her blonde hair became legendary. Her appearance seemed to be designed to evoke the image of a fairytale princess in Ukrainian folklore. In 2005, she was appointed Prime Minister.
To her, politics was about winning and keeping power — not improving the lot of her voters. Under her rule as prime minister, the euphoria of the Orange Revolution dissipated, to the point that Ukrainians — in despair — voted Mr Yanukovych, a former convict of deeply undistinguished manners and intellect, into the presidency.
He took a swift revenge. Mrs Tymoshenko was tried and sentenced on flimsy-sounding fraud and tax charges. Despite widespread international pressure — and mounting evidence of serious medical problems — the authorities refused to release her.
And the bruising world of Ukrainian politics has taken its toll on her personal life. Her husband Oleksandr fled the country in 2012 after being arrested on charges of embezzlement and forging customs documents. He has found refuge in the Czech Republic.
Their only daughter, the equally formidable Eugenia, who studied at the London School of Economics, has proved her mother’s most loyal supporter, pleading her case while she was imprisoned and standing by her side in Independence Square after her release on Saturday night.
The welcome Tymoshenko received from the crowd was less than ecstatic. Many do not want to see her reclaim power in the May elections. But for Ukraine’s people, the alternatives are little better.
The most prominent politician in the opposition is the former world boxing champion, Vitaly Klitschko. Few doubt the giant sportsman’s integrity and courage. But he is a political novice. Another potential leader, Arseniy Yatseniuk, is a polished performer and political insider. But many see him as too closely tied to the old system.
The supremely self-confident Mrs Tymoshenko may bide her time for now, but in the long run she is unlikely to see either of them as unbeatable opponents. She has plenty of enemies, but she can deal with them. Even the tycoons who have long determined the course of Ukrainian politics quail before her.
As Dmitry Vydrin — a friend who she has ostracised — told the American New Republic magazine: ‘You can’t stop her in any normal political way. You can’t beat her on TV, you can’t out-argue her . . . If she had more time on earth, she’d become president of the Ukraine, president of the EU, president of the U.S.’
If the gas princess can learn from her mistakes, she may yet stage a truly triumphant comeback and give her country the leadership it needs.
But everything I know about her self-interest, her hunger for power and her contempt for her people makes me doubt it.
- Edward Lucas is author of The New Cold War. His new book is The Snowden Operation: Inside The West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster (Amazon Kindle, 99p).
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Categories: Escalation / Destabilization Conflict