Yulia Tymoshenko: Princess of the Orange Revolution

by Caela

Yulia Tymoshenko’s authoritarian proclivities are well-known--and feared--among the country's elite, and they’ve earned her comparisons to another political leader: Vladimir Putin. Many observers say it's chilling to consider what her leadership could mean for the green shoots of Ukrainian democracy.

As energy Deputy Prime Minister, she virtually ended many corrupt arrangements in the energy sector. Under her stewardship, Ukraine’s revenue collections from the electricity industry grew by several thousand per cent. She scrapped the practice of barter in the electricity market, requiring industrial customers to pay for their electricity in cash. She also terminated exemptions for many organizations which excluded them from having their power disconnected. Her reforms meant that the government had sufficient funds to pay civil servants and increase salaries.

She is perhaps one of today’s most inspirational and controversial women. In 2005, after Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, she was named as the world’s third most powerful women by Forbes. With her braided blonde hair, high heels, fiery speeches and designer outfits, Yulia Tymoshenko was nicknamed the “princess” by Orange supporters and an icon of the demonstrations that incapacitated Kiev and resulted in the overturning of a fraudulent presidential election.

In the aftermath, Tymoshenko’s political partner, the opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, assumed Ukraine’s presidency. He promised to orient the country Westward, away from its traditional hegemon Russia, and to tackle its biggest problem: the near-total corruption of its official and economic life. By the following summer, however, the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko alliance had become a disaster, with the two leaders’ camps at war and with Tymoshenko’s followers accusing the Yushchenko administration of corruption.

Five years after the Orange Revolution, the glamorous Prime Minister is facing her largest battle yet. Supporters see her as a glamorous revolutionary challenging a corrupt, macho political elite. Her stinging attacks on the oligarchs boosted her popularity among many Ukrainians frustrated by years of economic stagnation and corruption.

With Viktor Yanukovich unable to unable to block her in the first round of the Presidential election, they would now face each other in the runoff in the 7th of February. A Yanukovich victory would mean an extraordinary reversal of the dramatic events of 2004.

Yanukovich had a comfortable 10 point lead over Tymoshenko during the first round (January 17) with 35% and 25% respectively. However, pollsters are of the opinion that Tymoshenko’s advantage lies in the second round as the supporters of the other 16 candidates are more likely to vote for her. One think tank, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the forthcoming presidential election in Ukraine may end with a coup or the establishment of either monarchy or dictatorship.

“If Yulia Tymoshenko wins the election – she is the only one who has the opportunity to control the government – she will make the nation’s head spin when she starts changing everything very quickly. She will be the Ukrainian blend of Margaret Thatcher, Nicolas Sarkozy, Alexander Lukashenko, [Vladimir] Putin and [Silvio] Berlusconi,” Vladimir Fesenko, the director of Ukraine’s Penta Political Analysis Center said.

Like they say in Ukraine: You can’t stop her in any normal political way. You can’t beat her on TV, you can’t out-argue her on the town square. If she had more biological time on earth, she’d become president of the Ukraine, president of the EU, president of the U.S. The only thing that can stop her is Tymoshenko herself.

One Response to “Yulia Tymoshenko: Princess of the Orange Revolution”
  1. bookssite.ru says:

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