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2007 - Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko

Ukrainian ex-premier, Yulia Timoshenko, said she would run for the top office. Presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for 25 May 2014. Yulia Tymoshenko said that she would not seek the post of prime minister in a new coalition government formed following the ouster of president Viktor Yanukovych. "Information that I was being considered for the post of prime minister of Ukraine came as a surprise," the former premier said.

Timoshenko, who had been freed from jail, left a Kharkov clinic and travelled to Kiev by special flight. The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada ruled to carry out Ukraine's international commitment to free the former Prime Minister from imprisonment. The decision was supported by 322 out of the 331 parliamentarians who had signed in at session hall.

Although Tymoshenko's 2010 presidential campaign stressed that she had effectively managed the economic crisis, Tymoshenko and her economic policies did not escape criticism, even from within her party. Tymoshenko did not have an economic policy or any formal decision-making system. Rather, the Prime Minister took an ad hoc approach and made decisions by herself. The budget was "manually" controlled by the Prime Minister since the summer of 2009. One associate described Tymoshenko as very emotional. Tymoshenko's character was at its essence authoritarian. While Yushchenko or Yanukovych could be influenced by their advisors, Tymoshenko took decisions on her own. Tymoshenko deliberately avoided having an advisor on macroeconomic issues and made all economic decisions on her own, usually without any counsel from experts. Aside from her management style, Tymoshenko ws also criticized for her seeming lack of a basic understanding of economics fundamentals. Tymoshenko routinely stated that the exchange rate had been artificially manipulated by conspirators.

Former associates were critical of her leadership skills and said that she made policy decisions without listening to considered advice. Many found it difficult to understand Tymoshenko's logic much of the time, except in the sense that her decisions were normally guided by "adventurous populism". She was seen as overly confident in her own decisions, believing that everyone else was wrong. Her sceptics concluded that Tymoshenko simply wanted to consolidate power in her own hands. In her eyes, populism helped her do this; reform would not. This indictment of Tymoshenko was particularly damning coming from people who saw it all from the inside.

Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko was born on November 27, 1960 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine). Upon graduating from high school in 1979, she continued her education in Dnipropetrovsk State University. Her major was Economics-Cybernetics from the Department of Economics. While being a student, she married Oleksandr Tymoshenko, in 1979 and gave birth to daughter Eugenia in 1980. In 1984 Yulia Tymoshenko completed the university with distinction. She started to work as an engineer-economist at the Dnipropetrovsk machine-building plant, named after Lenin.

From 1989 to 1991, she was a commercial director of the Dnipropetrovsk Youth Center "Terminal". From 1991, she was a CEO of the corporation "Ukrainskiy Benzin (Ukrainian Gasoline)". Her own capital and bank loans of the corporation were directed toward the purchases of fuel and oil materials.

In 1995, Yulia Tymoshenko became the president of "United Energy Systems of Ukraine" (UESU). At the end of 1996, Yulia Tymoshenko became a candidate to Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Supreme Rada of Ukraine). Indeed, she got a majority of 92.3% votes in her Bobrinsky Congressional District # 229, which is located in Kirovograd Region. From 1998, she became the head of budget strategic committee of Verkhovna Rada. During her work at this position, Yulia Tymoshenko developed projects of Budget and Taxation Codes, a new system of pension and medical security, a mechanism per paying off pension and salary debts. Also, under the direction of Yulia Volodymyrivna, the budget committee developed a program "100 weeks till worthy living".

On December 30, 1999 Yulia Tymoshenko takes the post of Vice Prime Minister on the issues of fuel and energy complex. During this period, Yulia Volodymyrivna has developed the "Energy Concept of Ukraine" and the anti-corruption program "Clean Energy". The main objective of these programs was the liquidation corruption and dominant criminal forces in the fuel and energy complex of Ukraine. In January of 2001, Yulia Tymoshenko was dispatched from the position of Vice Prime Minister. On February 13, 2001 she was arrested and charged by the District Attorney, which the public took as a punishment for her Democratic movement. In March, however, the Kiev City Pechersk Court found that the accusations were baseless and annulled the sanctions for the arrest. On February 9, 2001 Yulia Tymoshenko, she became an initiator of the Forum of National Salvation (FNS). This is a public union, whose main objective is to get rid of Kuchma's criminal regime.

In November of 2001, the participants of the union decide to rename the FNS into the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (Ukrainian: Blok Yuliyi Tymoshenko, BYuT). As the head of this party, Yulia Tymoshenko participates in the parliamentary elections. As the result of the elections, Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc receives more than 20 seats in Verkhovna Rada. She also created her political fraction.

In September of 2002, Yulia Tymoshenko as one of the opposition leaders heads the All-Ukrainian movement "Rebell, Ukraine!" This became the first serious strike of Ukrainian opposition and first action of public strike, during which there were a lot of street protests. In 2004, Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and Viktor Yushchenko Bloc Our Ukraine (Ukrainian: Nasha Ukrayina) announce the creation of coalition "People's Power" (Ukrainian: Sila Narodu) in order to support Victor Yushenko's presidential candidacy during the October 2004 election.

In November of 2004, Yulia Tymoshenko became one of the leaders of Orange Revolution, which secured the winning of Victor Yushenko on the presidential elections. The Rada appointed a new government on 4 February 2005 following the approval by a substantial majority of radical populist Yulia Tymoshenko as Prime Minister. EU integration was the dominant theme of the new government's ambitious program. The program also confronted a number of the main domestic challenges in Ukraine, focusing on corruption as the number one problem. The new authorities maintained the improvements in media freedoms and respect for the constitution. It also took forward the investigation into the murder of Georgiy Gongadze, as well as the cases of other missing journalists.

Tymoshenko could have remained as prime minister at least until parliamentary elections in March 2006. Leaving the coalition at this stage would threaten her political future, and she was protected from votes of no confidence by a period of 18-months' grace after becoming Prime Minister, which extended to the elections in 2006. Her more populist impulses continued to jar with Yushchenko's more reformist approach, but Yushchenko reined her in over misguided economic policies. However, due to public disagreements within the government, Yushchenko decided to sack his entire cabinet on 8 September 2005, including Prime Minister Tymoshenko.

Optimism about political stability decreased after the September 2005 crises. In that month, PresidentYushchenko dismissed the Yulia Tymoshenko government leading to a split in the Orange Revolution camp. Divisions in broad revolutionary coalitions, such as the one formed during the Orange Revolution, are common, but where Ukraine’s case is different is that the split came very early in the first year of the Orange presidency. Also in September, President Yushchenko’s entourage was accused of corruption leading to the dismissal of many business allies, such as Petro Poroshenko (secretary of the National Security and Defense Council).

The personal fortune she amassed in the 1990s as a businesswoman operating in a murky gas industry earned her the nickname of 'the gas princess.' Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko was ordered by the Prosecutor General (PG) in April 2006 to arrest senior Tymoshenko Bloc politicians Oleksandr Turchynov and Andriy Kozhemyakin for illegally destroying Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) files on the January gas deal with Russia and on organized crime figure Seymon Mogilievich. Turchynov had served as SBU head when Tymoshenko was prime minister (February-September 2005); Kozhemyakin had been Turchynov's deputy in charge of combating corruption and organized crime.

A lengthy 16 March 2006 Ukrainska Pravda (UP) article, citing sources within the SBU, asserted that Kozhemyakin had signed the destruction order for the Mogilievich files just one day before then-Prime Minister Tymoshenko was sacked (September 8, 2005); the UP article speculated that the files may have been destroyed because they contained evidence of illegal wiretapping against Tymoshenko rivals like Petro Poroshenko and/or evidence of shady business deals between Mogilievich and Tymoshenko when she headed United Energy Systems in the mid-late 1990s.

Political wrangling between the Ukraine and Russia led to serious disruptions in supplies in the past, especially in January 2006 and January 2009 when deliveries were temporarily halted over payment disputes. Russian crime boss Sergei Shnaider (better known as Semyen Mogilevich) not only enjoyed freedom of movement in Russia and official protection, but he was brought in by Gazprom to manage gas sales to Ukraine through the shady RosUkrEnergo venture. Only when he lost his political cover, for reasons that are unclear, he lost the support of his political cover and was arrested in January 2008.

President Yushchenko dissolved the Rada on April 3, 2007 and called for preterm elections. Months of political stalemate followed, with the Anti-Crisis Coalition continuing to hold Rada sessions, even after opposition parties Our Ukraine and BYuT resigned their seats and deprived the parliament of a constitutional quorum. On May 27, President Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yanukovych, and Rada Speaker Olexandr Moroz reached a political agreement on new elections that were held on September 30, 2007. International observers judged this vote to be in line with international democratic standards in an open and competitive environment. Party of Regions finished in first place with 34.3%, and ByuT came in second with 30.7%. BYuT and Our Ukraine, which came in a distant third (14.1%), garnered enough votes to form a thin three-seat majority. The Communist Party and Bloc Lytvyn, headed by Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, also crossed the 3% threshold.

The new coalition formed on December 18, 2007 nominated Yuliya Tymoshenko as Prime Minister; she was confirmed December 18, 2007. The cabinet was split 50-50 between representatives from BYuT and Our Ukraine (which is now called Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense). For most of February 2008, there was a deadlock within the Rada due to objections by opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to Ukraine's request for a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). The Rada experienced a deadlock again during summer 2008 due to the defection of two BYuT members of parliament (MPs), resulting in the party's loss of the majority. In July, Yuliya Tymoshenko's government survived a vote of no confidence.

Mutual recriminations between president Yushchenko and prime minister Tymoshenko quickly surfaced again in 2008. In September 2008, the coalition between Tymoshenko and Yushchenko's parties collapsed. On September 2, a majority of OU-PSD MPs voted to leave the coalition with BYuT, charging that BYuT was actively working with Party of Regions to weaken the presidency. On October 8, president Yuschenko disolved the Rada and called for pre-term Rada elections, blaming BYuT for the collapse of the coalition. PM Tymoshenko opposed pre-term elections, citing the unfolding domestic economic crisis as requiring political continuity and stability. The Rada did not pass necessary legislation to fund pre-term elections. A new coalition was formed between the former Orange allies, along with the Lytvyn Bloc, at the beginning of December 2008; however, this new coalition had not resolved disagreements between the President and Prime Minister. The Rada voted to have presidential elections on October 25, 2009, but the Constitutional Court ruled this date unconstitutional. In late November, Yushchenko rescinded his decree dissolving the Rada. On December 16, 2008, a new coalition was formed between BYuT, a majority of OU-PSD and Volodymyr Lytvyn's bloc, with Lytvyn as Rada Speaker.

On a 19 December 2008 political talk show, PM Tymoshenko called on President Yushchenko to resign, citing his involvement in currency manipulation and other destructive activities, and declared herself in open opposition to the president. Tymoshenko decided that Yushchenko needs to go before the end of his presidential term in December 2009 because his actions, blocking the government's work and manipulating the currency, are too destructive to be allowed to continue. A common refrain was that Yushchenko had no plan or strategy for the country beyond "destroy Tymoshenko."

The years since the 2004 Orange Revolution were "lost years". Yushchenko's interference in the work of the PM and her government -- revoking Cabinet of Ministers' resolutions, issuing detailed instructions for Tymoshenko's international trips -- was damaging and had led to four "lost years" in Ukraine. The 2007 early parliamentary elections had been a waste of money, time and effort and had brought no change. By 2009 many supporters concluded that Tymoshenko was in denial about the public's disenchantment with politics and about her own eroding political standing. Shown dire polling data, Tymoshenko, refused to accept it, insisting that someone must have tampered with the data or bribed the pollsters.

Ukraine elections were scheduled on 27 January 2010. On 19 October 2009 Ukraine officially launched the presidential election campaign, the first since the 2004 "orange revolution" that swept Viktor Yushchenko to power. Yushchenko was running for reelection, but with poll ratings in the low single digits was unlikely to win the January contest. Opinion polls pointed to Viktor Yanukovych, the president's opponent in the 2004 race, as a leading contender, along with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Analysts predicted both will go into a runoff vote. Ukrainians hoped the election will end several years of political infighting, which has complicated decision-making in the country.

Before an estimated 150,000 followers and spectators, Prime Minister Tymoshenko accepted on 24 October 2009 her party's nomination for president. Tymoshenko appealed to the emotions of the voters and stated numerous times that she understood them because she was just like them. Underscoring her humble beginnings and "rags-to-riches" story, she spent about half of her 50-minute speech recounting her impoverished childhood as one of seven living in a one-room apartment; her work as a teenager in a tire factory in Dnipropetrovsk (unloading tires "three times larger than I");and discussing how she put herself through school, started her own small business, became an executive in the energy sector, and then set out to rid the sector of corruption while she was the Deputy PM for Fuel and Energy. She also reminded the crowd of her imprisonment during the Kuchma presidency on allegations of fraud as further proof of her status as a victim, outsider and crusader. She talked of receiving letters in prison from imprisoned children who were there "because they had stolen bread to feed their families," while oligarchs who had stolen the riches of the state were enjoying their freedom.

Tymoshenko promised to improve relations with Moscow through pragmatic engagement. However, she pledged to continue to pursue European integration vigorously and has declared that Ukraine has one fundamental vector: Europe. She has underlined her commitment to a Western-oriented Ukraine, but with a mostly European focus that soft-pedals NATO. Tymoshenko's domestic economic agenda is often contradictory, at times supporting free-market solutions and at other times reverting to government control of prices and heavy regulation. She campaigned as the candidate who can get things done -- and as the one who represented/embodied the Ukrainian nation [hence the strange signature hair].

Tymoshenko's extensive pre-election poster and television campaign featured variations on the theme of "They Block, She Works", meaning the Party of Regions and others block the efforts of the government, but she continues to work for the country. The advertisements have no picture of Tymoshenko, nor do they carry her name, referring only to "She" in her party's signature red-and-white-color motif. Tymoshenko has also assembled an A-list cast of Ukraine's most famous movie, television, and music personalities for a series of nationwide shows that do not explicitly refer to her candidacy, but highlight her accomplishments as Prime Minister. Actors and musicians are also featured in a poster campaign about their love for their country, again without mentioning Tymoshenko by name, but in her signature colors and with the heart symbol used by her party. Tymoshenko's campaign posters were only in the Ukrainian language, even in Crimea (unlike those of Yanukovych and Yatsenyuk which use Russian in the South and East.)

In a meeting with law enforcement heads to mark the 09 December 2009 "National Day of Fighting Corruption," President Yushchenko accused Prime Minister Tymoshenko of misappropriating billions of hryvnias in state funds and bribing local officials to manipulate the January 17 presidential election. He claimed that the "Prime Minister systematically arranges for the misuse of billions of hryvnias of state budget funds," and blamed the Prosecutor General's office for failing to investigate the alleged corruption. This unedifying spectacle was a somewhat spicier version of the discouraging daily fare in Ukrainian intra-governmental discourse.

The first round of Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election took place on January 17. International and domestic observers assessed the vote as having met most international standards. As no candidate received 50% or more of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes--opposition leader Yanukovych (35%) and Prime Minister Tymoshenko (25%)--progressed to a second-round runoff. The second round took place on February 7 in a vote that observers again assessed as largely free and fair. On February 14, the Central Election Commission announced that Yanukovych had won the election with 49% of the vote, compared to Tymoshenko’s 46%. Alleging fraud, Tymoshenko initially appealed, but then withdrew her appeal on February 20 saying that the court would not consider her appeal fairly.

In the weeks after the 07 February 2010 second round of Presidential election, PM Yuliya Tymoshenko had not recognized Yanukovych's victory, and was not likely to. Yanukovych's Party of Regions sought to use momentum from Yanukovych's win to try and break Tymoshenko's coalition and remove her from office. Regions hoped to entice Tymoshenko's main coalition partner, Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense (OU-PSD), to abandon Tymoshenko and join a Regions-led coalition. on March 11, the Party of Regions, the Communists, the Lytvyn Bloc, and 16 non-aligned members of parliament (MPs) established the “Stability and Reform” ruling coalition in the Rada composed of 235 MPs. Also on March 11, the Rada confirmed President Yanukovych’s nomination of Mykola Azarov as Prime Minister and replaced the entire cabinet of ministers. Opposition MPs and others argued the coalition had been formed illegally, as a coalition could only be composed of factions, not individuals. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled on April 8 that the Party of Regions-led coalition was constitutional, stating that individuals MPs do in fact have the right to take part in forming parliamentary coalitions.

In Ukraine's second parliamentary election, on March 29, 1998, one of the winners was the Hromada party, which was led by [notoriously corrupt] former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and Yulia Tymoshenko. The Hromada party soon disolved, but Tymoshenko later formed the Fatherland party that became part of a voting bloc bearing her name in the 2002 elections. Lazarenko was sent to US Federal prison for nine years and fined $10 million by a U.S. judge in San Francisco in 2006 for money laundering, wire fraud and transporting stolen goods. Authorities were still trying to recover more than $100 million he was suspected of stealing during two turbulent years (1996-97) as Prime Minister.

Tymoshenko was convicted in 2011 on charges of abusing power while in office -- charges she and her supporters, along with the EU and the United States, say were politically motivated. Tymoshenko was convicted on charges of criminally exceeding her power when she signed a natural gas deal with Russia in 2009 without cabinet approval. She was sentenced to seven years in prison, a ten year ban from participating in politics, and a fine of approximately 190 million dollars. Tymoshenko went on a hunger strike in April 2012 after accusing prison staff of beating her while she was being transferred to a hospital. Ukrainian officials deny the charges. Washington continues to view her prosecution and the prosecution of other opposition leaders as politically motivated.

On August 29, 2012 Ukraine's high court rejected former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's appeal against her conviction on charges of abuse of office. A judge said the court could not approve the appeal by Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence. The ruling came a day after her lawyers argued before the European Court for Human Rights that she was held before her trial illegally and under inhumane conditions. The charges are linked to a natural gas deal she brokered with Russia in 2009 while serving as prime minister. She faced separate charges of embezzlement and tax evasion.

On November 13, 2013 Ukraine's parliament failed to agree on a draft law allowing jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment, clouding prospects for signing landmark agreements with the European Union. The opposition leader was serving a seven-year prison term on charges of abuse of office; the European Union called her trial politically motivated. Her continued detention was an obstacle to a key association deal between Ukraine and the 28-nation EU that was to be signed at a summit in Vilnius later in the month. Moscow had pressured Ukraine not to sign the deal, which would turn the former Soviet republic toward the West and away from Russia.

The Ukrainian Supreme Court has cleared party leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of all charges of signing a gas contract between Ukraine’s Naftogaz and Russia’s Gazprom, her Batkivshina party website announced 24 June 2014. “Tymoshenko’s directive for Ukraine’s Naftogaz delegation to sign the purchase-sale contract on natural gas for [the period of] 2009-2019 cannot be considered as abuse of power. From these norms of the law the Supreme Court has come to the conclusion that in this particular criminal case there is no existence of a crime,” the party said.

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