Tymoshenko, Yuliya

▪ 2009
Yuliya Volodymyrivna 
born Nov. 27, 1960, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, U.S.S.R.

      In May 2008 Yuliya Tymoshenko, Ukraine's newly appointed prime minister, was engaged in a direct contest for power with Pres. Viktor Yushchenko. The conflict over authority between the presidency and the parliament presaged a serious constitutional crisis that led to the formation of a new parliamentary coalition in December. As the two former allies clashed over various issues, surveys indicated that Tymoshenko had emerged as the most popular politician in the country.

      Tymoshenko's family lineage was reported variously as Ukrainian, Russian, Latvian, and Jewish. She studied cybernetics at Dnipropetrovsk State University and in 1984 received a degree in economics. She had married Oleksandr Tymoshenko in 1979 and given birth to a daughter the following year.

      In 1995 Tymoshenko became president of United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU). The company imported gas from Russia, which could then be reexported to the West or sold internally. In return, UESU exported metals, pipes, and other goods to Russia. The business earned her the epithet of “the gas princess.” She amassed a fortune and was linked to other successful entrepreneurs, including Pavlo Lazarenko.

      Tymoshenko moved smoothly into a political career, exploiting her business connections and natural beauty and eventually adopting what became her trademark “Ukrainian” braided hairstyle. She was first elected to the Ukrainian Parliament in 1996 and in 1999 was appointed deputy prime minister for fuel and energy under Yushchenko, who was then prime minister. Two years later, in early 2001, she was dismissed, arrested, and briefly jailed on corruption charges. Tymoshenko always maintained that the charges were politically motivated, and they were later dropped.

      In November 2001 she founded the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (BYT; originally the National Rescue Forum) in opposition to Pres. Leonid Kuchma. Although Tymoshenko had previously been considered a strong candidate for the presidency, she formed an alliance with Yushchenko's Our Ukraine and supported his bid for president in 2004. During the events of the Orange Revolution, Tymoshenko was a key figure, passionately denouncing Viktor Yanukovych's presidential election campaign and the alleged electoral fraud that resulted in Yanukovych's victory being overturned. After Yushchenko was installed as president, he named her prime minister in January 2005. Her cabinet was dismissed nine months later, however, after fractious disputes with the head of the Security and Defense Council and her controversial attempts to reprivatize companies that had been sold at less than market value.

      The BYT formed the main opposition after the collapse of the Orange coalition in the summer of 2006 and finished in second place in the 2007 parliamentary campaign. On Oct. 15, 2007, Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense and the BYT agreed to form a majority in the new parliament, and on December 18 Tymoshenko regained her position as prime minister. By this time the most recognizable figure in Ukraine, she campaigned for changes to the constitution that would transform the country into a parliamentary republic.

David R. Marples

* * *

▪ prime minister of Ukraine
née  Yuliya Volodymyrivna,  Yuliya also spelled  Yulia 
born Nov. 27, 1960, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, U.S.S.R. [now in Ukraine]
 
 Ukrainian businesswoman and politician, who served as prime minister of Ukraine (2005, 2007– ).

      Tymoshenko's family lineage has been reported variously as Ukrainian, Russian, Latvian, and Jewish. She married Oleksandr Tymoshenko in 1979 and gave birth to a daughter the following year. She studied cybernetics at Dnipropetrovsk State University and in 1984 received a degree in economics.

      In 1995 Tymoshenko became president of United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU). The company imported gas from Russia, which could then be reexported to the West or sold internally. In return, UESU exported metals, pipes, and other goods to Russia. The business earned her the epithet of “the gas princess.” She amassed a fortune and was linked to other successful entrepreneurs, including Pavlo Lazarenko. She then moved smoothly into a political career, exploiting her business connections and natural beauty and eventually adopting what became her trademark “Ukrainian” braided hairstyle. She was first elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 1996 and in 1999 was appointed deputy prime minister for fuel and energy under Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko (Yushchenko, Viktor). Two years later, in early 2001, she was dismissed, arrested, and briefly jailed on corruption charges. Tymoshenko always maintained that the charges were politically motivated, and they were later dropped.

      In November 2001 she founded the Bloc of Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYT; originally the National Rescue Forum) in opposition to Pres. Leonid Kuchma (Kuchma, Leonid). Although Tymoshenko had previously been considered a strong candidate for the presidency, she formed an alliance with Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party and supported his bid for president in 2004. During the events of the Orange Revolution, Tymoshenko was a key figure, passionately denouncing Viktor Yanukovych's presidential election campaign and the alleged electoral fraud that resulted in Yanukovych's victory being overturned. After Yushchenko was installed as president, he named her prime minister in January 2005. Her cabinet was dismissed nine months later, however, after fractious disputes with the head of the Security and Defense Council and her controversial attempts to reprivatize companies that had been sold at less than market value.

      The BYT formed the main opposition after the collapse of the pro-Western Orange coalition in the summer of 2006 and finished in second place in the 2007 parliamentary campaign. On Oct. 15, 2007, Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense and the BYT agreed to form a majority in the new parliament, and on December 18 Tymoshenko regained her position as prime minister. By this time the most recognizable figure in Ukraine, she campaigned for changes to the constitution that would transform the country into a parliamentary republic.

      By May 2008 Tymoshenko was engaged in a direct contest for power with President Yushchenko. The conflict over authority between the presidency and the parliament presaged a serious constitutional crisis. As the two former allies clashed over various issues—for instance, while the president maintained his pro-Western stance and focused on gaining membership in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the prime minister was accused of being overly supportive of Russia—their governing coalition collapsed in September 2008. Tymoshenko remained in her post pending new parliamentary elections.

David R. Marples
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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