News / Europe

Profile: Presidential Candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s ‘Joan of Arc’

Presidential Candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's 'Joan of Arc'i
April 09, 2014 2:22 AM
Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is trailing in polls ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May. She is one of the country's best-known political figures, but many analysts say she is struggling to throw off her old pre-revolution image in the minds of the electorate. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Presidential Candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's 'Joan of Arc'
Henry Ridgwell
Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is trailing in polls ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May.  She is one of the country’s best-known political figures, but many analysts say she is struggling to throw off her old pre-revolution image in the minds of the electorate.

Tymoshenko’s dramatic return to frontline politics came with her release from the hospital in February. She had been in jail -- and then hospitalized under guard -- since 2011, following her conviction on charges of abuse of office.

Her appearance that night in a wheelchair in Independence Square was met with cheers - but also some disapproval.

“She is quite controversial and the difficulty with her candidacy is to project the hope of the future. In a way she belongs to the older generation of Ukrainian politics, something that in many minds is associated with the former corrupt regime,” said Orysia Lutsevych, who is from the London-based analyst group Chatham House.

Tymoshenko was a central figure in the 2004 Orange Revolution and was appointed Prime Minister under President Viktor Yuschenko. Their alliance later fell apart - paving the way for the now-ousted Viktor Yanukovych to become president.

Observers say Tymoshenko is trying to shake off that past and play to her strengths as one of Ukraine’s best-known figures. At a recent news conference, she was asked how she would wrest Crimea back from Russia, following the region’s annexation last month.

"A lot of factors in returning Crimea to Ukraine depend on how we can build an economically strong, democratic and European state on the continental part of Ukraine," she said.  "I think that an example of well-ordered lives, freedom that will become the spirit and sense of life in the new Ukraine, will set a strong example for anyone who once might have considered Russia as a possible new Motherland."

To become the leader of that new Ukraine, Tymoshenko is trading on her striking image, says Orysia Lutsevych.

“She’s called the Ukrainian ‘Joan of Arc’, somebody who can bring hope in a way of personalizing suffering, being ready not to compromise with [ousted president] Yanukovych’s regime and his people, she is believed to be a tough politician you know, someone who can fight the oligarchs,” she said.

In recent days pro-Russian armed groups have stormed city offices in several eastern Ukrainian cities.

Just tens of kilometers away, Russian forces are massed on Ukraine’s borders.

Tymoshenko has talked a tough game against President Vladimir Putin - but that may not help Ukraine in the long run, says Andrew Foxall of the analyst group the Henry Jackson Society.

“Recently she called President Putin ‘Ukraine’s enemy number one,’" he said. "And that I think would be a grave concern, in terms of how she would take the country forward with regards to Russia.”

Tymoshenko is resolutely pro-European and retains strong support in Ukraine’s west. But at a time when the country appears to be pulling itself apart, analysts say she remains a divisive figure.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
April 09, 2014 4:38 PM
Tymoshenko...."analysts say she remains a divisive figure" and that is exactly what Ukraine does not need, neither now nor in the near future. It is the divisionists that have brought the country, in great part, to its current disastrous situation; the other part, of the downfall, were those in power, and supported corrupt affairs. In 20 yrs, Ukraine's well being slid back, year after year. Ukraine has almost reached its economic bottom, extremely painfull reforms will be required to restore Ukraine's economy; it is quite likely to take a decade or longer to significantly improve the economy.
At this point in time, Ukraine needs a competent, technocrat, that can manage Western technical help; that can appeal to all the people/ethnic groups in Ukraine; such a person needs to put the country ahead of his personal gain/bank account; and like it or not, this super leader needs to be able to restore relations with Russia, to ensure the common interests are assured, and the differences are minimized.
Ukraine will need to continue to rely on Russian markets for quite some time, its industrial base is not up to par to compete on EU markets; this is a key issue given that most of Russian speaking Ukrainians are connected to Russia's economy; it is their main market.
Unless most of the people are convinced, that the new gvmt will look after everyone's prosperity, secessionist feelings will remain high. The restrictive language and cultural laws, are the first ones that need to go.
Does Ukraine have such a super leader? hard to tell, none of their past leaders fits the bill. And the EU's grandstanding agrandizing politicians, needs to back off, unless they are prepared to invest 300 to 500, million euros, in the next 5-10 yrs in the Ukraine project.
It is a very difficult situation. And lastly, the Russian Czar, needs to get back to the 21rst century, and even free its own people, feed his people, rather than have extravagant gatherings, be it in Moscow, or be it at Ukraine's borders, or he will also have a difficult life in the near future, as Nicholas did.

by: john from: usa
April 09, 2014 3:57 PM
this is a bunch of propaganda. She is a crook.
In Response

by: seemeseemenot from: germany
April 09, 2014 10:24 PM
she is a nazi and is portrayed in this article as a freedom fighter. the american-british administrations love her because she fits in their central-banking concept.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs