An Oligarch climbs up the political tree

25 January 2005 |


Yulia Tymoshenko, the 44-year-old Oligarch, has finally made it to the top of the political tree in Ukraine - which was once the land of the soviets.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, another prominent Oligarch, did not hide his ambitions in Russia - and had to pay the price for it. He is languishing in a Russian prison.

It is quite absurd to even think that the politicians of EU are of a superior moral quality. I wouldn't be shocked if EU leaders line up to embrace Tymoshenko. Her rise to power has a direct link with her ability to manage capital (albeit stolen public money) - and facilitate the growth of big corporations.

The creation of a few billionaires and their prosperity at the expense of a billion poor people is what Capitalism is all about. That was exactly what Feudalism was all about. Russians and Ukraninans are not too young enough or even old enough to forget the hardship during the times of Czar.

Wealth has never been generated in this world. I just cannot believe Europe (or whatever that is meant by West) created wealth. Of course, the colonial powers did bring home (Europe) a lot wealth from the colonies.

One need not look any beyond to find the reasons and cause for abject poverty in Africa, Asia and South America. The real wealth of these continents can be seen in Europe and North America.

USA stole the real wealth of Africa - healthy strong young men.

If Robert Mugabe is an Oligarch of Africa... Britain created him.

World must keep a close eye on Tymoshenko; here is a woman who has proven anbility to steal public funds. To give her the keys to a Nation's treasury... sets a new low in what we have come to cherish as democracy'.

Don't you hear Orwell laughing at us?


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Ukraine's 'goddess of revolution'
By Marina Denysenko
BBC News, Ukraine

Orange-clad protesters call her "Goddess of the Revolution" while outgoing President Leonid Kuchma and some of the oligarchs - Ukraine's business and political elite - are believed to hate her.

Glamorous Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the key figures of the ongoing Orange Revolution in Ukraine, ignites passion on both sides.

She is a close ally of Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the Ukrainian opposition that believes he won the bitterly disputed presidential run-off on 21 November.

Recent events have elevated Ms Tymoshenko's popularity to new heights, literally. On one occasion, riot police guarding Mr Kuchma's office raised their shields to allow her through to where talks were being held.

On another, she perched on top of a bus, from where she whipped the crowd into a frenzy with her calls for the government's resignation.

"I would even prefer her to be the president," one of the Kiev protesters says.

Controversial character

In her speeches, Ms Tymoshenko has referred to Mr Kuchma as a "red-haired cockroach".

And when talking about the supporters of Viktor Yanukovych, who claimed victory in the election, she suggested they should hang themselves on the blue and white scarves they wear.

Her opponents say she is demagogic and pretentious.

She sports an elaborate hairdo reminiscent of a peasant plait, meant to appeal to ordinary Ukrainians.

But her followers point to her intelligence and charisma.

Ms Tymoshenko is seen as one of the candidates for the post of prime minister in post-Kuchma Ukraine, and that makes many Ukrainians feel uncomfortable.

They point to her controversial past when in the 1990s she reportedly made a fortune from questionable gas trading.

She was briefly arrested in February 2001, but the next month a court in Kiev quashed all the charges and annulled the arrest warrant.

She became one of the key players in Mr Yushchenko's government of 1999-2001, launching an all-out assault on the oligarchs' interests in Ukraine's highly corrupt energy sector.

As the result of her efforts, some $2bn were re-directed into the state budget.

Ms Tymoshenko's critics say that once she is in power she is likely to be driven by revenge for those oligarchs in the energy sector.

Lady Yu's charisma

Her radicalism is offset by the more moderate tactics of Mr Yushchenko.

"If Tymoshenko had been in charge, the breakthrough would have already been achieved," BBC Kiev office head Svitlana Dorosh says.

But local observers agree that Mr Yushchenko's team needs such a personality. With a new poll just days away, it is essential to keep the momentum of the street protests going, they say.

And the charisma of Lady Yu may be indispensable.

Mr Yushchenko's flamboyant aide is adored by the crowds that seem to have forgotten that she used to be an oligarch herself.



* * *
Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko to get tough




Monday January 24, 2005

By Natasha Lisova


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - With her trademark blond braid, Yulia Tymoshenko was Viktor Yushchenko's most visible ally in the ``Orange Revolution,'' that paved the way for Yushchenko's victory in the fiercely contested presidential race.

But the 44-year-old firebrand opposition leader is dogged by corruption allegations from her time as head of a natural gas trading company, and Russia has twice sought her arrest.


Nominated Monday to become Ukraine's prime minister, Tymoshenko's ringing calls to action were key to keeping thousands of demonstrators in the streets for weeks after Yushchenko was declared the loser in the fraudulent Nov. 21 election, which was later annulled.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Tymoshenko said her first tasks as prime minister would include reviewing the national budget and restarting Ukraine's efforts to join the European Union.

Ukraine's new leadership cannot go into the EU integration processes ``half-ready,'' she said. ``It is a bilateral process and Ukraine cannot decide by itself when it will join the EU.''

Ukraine is still far from being considered for EU membership because of its record of human rights and press freedom abuses and the poor state of the economy.

Tymoshenko has also pledged to improve Ukraine's ties with Russia, which supported Yushchenko's opponent in the presidential campaign, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Last year, Russian military prosecutors announced they wanted to press charges against her for alleged bribes given to Russian Defense Ministry officials in the mid-1990s.

Tymoshenko has refused to travel to Moscow for questioning and even accused the government in Russia - Ukraine's key trade partner and energy supplier - of plotting to abduct her.

But in a recent conciliatory message, she said that not a ``single man or a politician ... can destroy Ukraine's relations with Russia.''

Oleksandr Lytvynenko, an analyst at Kiev's Razumkov think tank, welcomed Tymoshenko's nomination, saying she has the ``economic education and experience of work in executive bodies.''

``She is quite capable of solving international problems, particularly with neighboring Russia,'' he said.

In contrast to Yushchenko's stolid speaking style, Tymoshenko's fiery rhetoric was key to keeping up demonstrators' morale in the weeks before Yushchenko won the Dec. 26 election rerun.

``I believe in her, she went through the revolution with us and didn't betray us,'' said Ihor Vovkun, 20, who spent two months in the tent camp in downtown Kiev.

Her personal style, combining up-to-the-minute couture with a traditional blond braid ringing her head, made her a highly telegenic symbol during the mass demonstrations.

As Yushchenko walked to an outdoor rostrum Sunday to give his inauguration speech, cheers for the president were mixed with chants of ``Tymoshenko!'' and ``Yulia for premier!''

But Tymoshenko also has a lot of enemies.

A crusading political opponent of former President Leonid Kuchma, she gained prominence when she headed the now-defunct Unified Energy Systems, Ukraine's predominant gas dealer, in the 1990s. Western governments and industry experts later applauded her for pushing through energy sector reforms as Kuchma's deputy prime minister.

She was ousted from government in 2001, turning against Kuchma and forming a party bloc and a parliamentary faction under her name.

Since 2001, prosecutors have opened several probes against her, and she was jailed briefly on charges of bribery, money-laundering, corruption and abuse of power while working for Unified Energy Systems. She has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

As prime minister, Tymoshenko would likely strike back at her foes, with Kuchma as a prime target.

The scandal-tainted former president was implicated in several murky affairs including the slaying of an investigative journalist - allegations he denies.

Although many speculate Kuchma sought assurances for his immunity from prosecution from top opposition leaders, Tymoshenko claims she ``gave no guarantees'' to the former president.

``I believe that he must be accountable for everything he did with Ukraine,'' she told the AP last week.

She also pledged to crack down on wealthy coal and steel tycoons from Ukraine's east who backed Kuchma and Yanukovych, his hand-picked presidential candidate.

``They skimmed off the best cream of Ukrainian industry ... all factories that were more or less profitable, were divided between them,'' she said.

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