Tymnoshenko studied Ukrainian 12 hours a day for months until she could debate in a language she had never previously spoken on a daily basis

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Tue Oct 9 19:14:34 UTC 2007

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Tymoshenko revives Orange hopes
After a stunning upset in last week's election, the former prime minister
is poised to lead a fresh Orange coalition.

By Fred Weir | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 9, 2007 edition

Reporter Fred Weir talks about how Yulia Tymoshenko's good showing in the
recent Ukrainian elections will make all the difference when it comes to
forming coalitions.MOSCOW - With her trademark peasant braids and fiery
talk of radical change, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
has come roaring back from the political wilderness. After producing a
stunning upset in Ukraine's emergency parliamentary polls last week, she
is poised to retake the prime ministry as head of a fresh Western-leaning
Orange coalition.

Her momentum gives the flagging pro-democracy Orange Revolution a new
lease on life after more than a year of political stalemate. But despite
this, many Ukrainian political players are wary of Ms. Tymoshenko's return
even her recently reconciled ally, President Viktor Yushchenko.

"There is a rational basis for Yushchenko and Tymoshenko to cooperate in
the long term, to revive the stalled Orange agenda" of making sweeping
market reforms and bringing Ukraine closer to the European Union and NATO,
says Oleksandr Sushko, an analyst with the independent Institute for
Euro-Atlantic Integration in Kiev. "This is a moment in which many things
that have been on hold might become possible again."

Yet as coalition talks in Kiev drag into their second week, there is an
unmistakable note of worry over the imminent return of Tymoshenko to

"Tymoshenko constantly demands full and total power," says Viktor
Nebozhenko, director of Ukrainian Barometer, an independent Kiev think
tank, and a former member of Tymoshenko's campaign team. "She has a high
level of personal charisma, but she also tends to be a demagogue. She
can't make compromises, she can't manage a partnership. Her personality is
too strong."

Over the weekend, Mr. Yushchenko, who fired Tymoshenko a few months into
her prime ministerial term in 2005, seemed to be already seeking to curb
her authority, perhaps by stacking any future government with members of
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's pro-Moscow Party of Regions.

"We have to involve the opposition in forming [the government]," he told
the German magazine Focus. To a French TV station he said: "One must take
into account that [Yanukovich] received one-third of the votes in the

Indeed, Mr. Yanukovich came first with 34 percent  almost equal to his
support in 2006 polls  in final results announced Friday. Yushchenko's Our
Ukraine movement also remained flat with 14.2 percent. By contrast,
Tymoshenko's electoral bloc, BYuT (Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko), struck a chord
with politically exhausted Ukrainians. It increased its popular vote by
nearly 10 percent, to 31 percent, creating an unprecedented opening for
BYuT and Our Ukraine to form a stand-alone Orange coalition, albeit with a
razor-thin majority of just 228 seats in the 450-seat Supreme Rada.

Raised in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, Tymoshenko reportedly made a
fortune as head of the country's biggest fuel trader in the 1990s, earning
the nickname of "Gas Princess."

After going into politics in the late '90s, Tymoshenko cast herself as a
staunch liberal reformer, corruption fighter, and Ukrainian patriot. One
of her former imagemakers, Mr. Nebozhenko, says she studied Ukrainian for
12 hours a day for months, until she was fit to carry on parliamentary
debates in a language she had never previously spoken on a daily basis.

While serving as deputy prime minister in 2001, Tymoshenko was imprisoned
for several weeks on accusations of forgery and smuggling during her
earlier business career. Those charges, which she described as
fabrications of her political enemies, were later dropped, as was a
Russian warrant for her arrest.

Tymoshenko rocketed to prominence as Yushchenko's chief ally in the
"Orange Revolution," three weeks of non-stop demonstrations in Kiev's
freezing central square that led to Yanukovich's fradulent presidential
victory being overturned. A powerful orator, she would warm up crowds and
then hand the stage over to the more lackluster Yushchenko. The formula
worked: Yushchenko became president with Tymoshenko as his prime minister.

But their postrevolutionary honeymoon collapsed amid squabbling over the
pace of privatization and faltering economic growth, which plummeted under
her stewardship from 12 percent in 2004 to just 2 percent the next year.

Alexander Dergachov, an expert with the independent Institute of Political
and Ethno-Social Studies in Kiev, says it's hard to judge Tymoshenko's
performance as premier, "since she had little freedom to act." Still, he
adds, "She has yet to prove that she can leave the streets and work
effectively in government."

Many experts predict that a fresh Tymoshenko prime ministership could
result in moving forward presidential elections now slated for 2009. If
Yushchenko remains unpopular, Tymoshenko would probably be up against
Yanukovich, the pro-Russia champion who has  with the help of US
consultants  overhauled his image into that of a Western-style politician.

Tymoshenko  who, ahead of last week's polls, held over 300 election
meetings and visited every region of Ukraine in little more than a month
is likely to give him a run for his money.

"Every election campaign involving Tymoshenko resembles a military
operation," says Nikolai Zhupylo, a social psychologist with the
independent Socionika Center in Lvov, Ukraine. "She can't live without



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