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

Presidential Candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's 'Joan of Arc'i
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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.

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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.

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