Monday, November 12, 2007

Yuliya Tymoshenko

Yuliya Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko is a Ukrainian politician, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, and the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" party and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc.

Before becoming Ukraine's first female Prime Minister, Tymoshenko was one of the key leaders of the Orange Revolution.

Prior to her political career, Yuliya Tymoshenko was a successful but controversial businesswoman in the gas industry, which made her wealthy.

Tymoshenko is the daughter of Ludmila Nikolaevna Telegina and Vladimir Abramovich Grigyan She was born on November 27, 1960, in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR). In 1979, she married Oleksandr Tymoshenko, son of a mid-level Soviet communist party bureaucrat, and began rising through a number of positions under the Komsomol, the official Soviet Communist youth organization. She graduated from the Dnipropetrovsk State University with a degree in economics in 1984, and went on to gain a candidate’s degree (the equivalent of a Ph.D.) in economics. Since then, she has written about 50 papers.

From 1995 to 1997, Tymoshenko was the president of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine, a privately owned middleman company that became the main importer of Russian natural gas to Ukraine in 1996. During that time she was nicknamed "gas princess" in light of accusations that she has been reselling enormous quantities of stolen gas and avoiding taxation of those deals.

Tymoshenko moved into politics in 1996, and was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) from the Kirovohrad Oblast, winning a record 92.3% of the vote in her constituency. She was re-elected in 1998 and 2002. In 1998, she became the Chair of the Budget Committee of Verkhovna Rada.

From 1999 to 2001, Tymoshenko was the Deputy Prime Minister for fuel and energy sector in the cabinet of Viktor Yushchenko. She was fired by President Leonid Kuchma in January 2001 after developing a conflict with the oligarchs in the industry.

In February 2001, Tymoshenko was arrested on charges of forging customs documents and smuggling of gas between 1995 and 1997 (while president of United Energy Systems of Ukraine) but was released several weeks later. Her political supporters organized several protest rallies near the Lukyanivska Prison where she was held in custody. According to Tymoshenko, the charges were fabricated by Kuchma's regime, under the influence of oligarchs threatened by her efforts to root out corruption and institute market-based reforms. In spite of being cleared of the charges, Moscow maintained an arrest warrant for Tymoshenko should she enter Russia until her dismissal as Prime Minister over 4 years later.

Several months into her government, numerous inner conflicts inside the post‐Revolution coalition began to damage Tymoshenko's administration. On September 8, 2005, after the resignation of several senior officials including the Head of the Security and Defence Council Petro Poroshenko and Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Tomenko, Yuliya Tymoshenko's government was dismissed by President Viktor Yushchenko during a live TV address to the nation.

Tymoshenko wrote an article called "Containing Russia" in the May-June 2007 edition of the journal Foreign Affairs. In the article she sharply criticized alleged authoritarian developments under Vladimir Putin and opposed the alleged new Russian expansionism.

Following balloting in the 2007 parliamentary elections held on September 30, 2007, Orange Revolution parties said they had won enough votes to form a governing coalition. As of October 3, 2007, an almost final tally gave the alliance of Tymoshenko and President Yushchenko a slim lead over a rival party of Prime Minister Yanukovych. Although Yanukovych, whose party won the single biggest share of the vote, also claimed victory, one of his coalition allies, the Socialist Party of Ukraine, failed to gain enough votes to retain seats in Parliament.

Nonetheless, it is expected that the Tymoshenko Bloc and the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc, which is associated with President Yushchenko, will form a governing coalition. Both parties are affiliated with the Orange Revolution. On October 15, 2007, Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc agreed to form a majority coalition in the new parliament.

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