Jeanne d'Arc and Julia de Dnipropetrovsk
Every great man is followed by a great woman. Sometimes, though, a great man is guided by a great woman although officially she walks several steps behind him. I don’t think many of us remember Charles VII, king of France, but the name Jeanne d'Arc survived in the history of mankind. Her dignity and brave deeds for the sake of the motherland brought her real glory.
In the present situation in Ukraine, there is one woman who is regarded by half of Ukrainians as a national heroine. Her name is Julia Tymoshenko. Yet, her biography is filled with many contradictory facts. Perhaps this is why the other 50% of Ukrainians do not see her as national heroine: A former Ukrainian vice prime minister, Julia Tymoshenko later became one of the rigorous critics of the Kuchma government. Therefore, in order to understand who Mrs. Timoshenko is, we must start from the very beginning.
She was born in 1960 in the city of Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic). She was always a brilliant pupil at school, received a university education as an economist-cyberneticist and later earned a PhD degree in economics. She is the author of more than 50 research works.
As the era of Perestroika began, Tymoshenko started her career as an economist at Dnipropetrovsk mechanical engineering plant. Gorbachev’s new political course favored enthusiastic and energetic people such as Tymoshenko. Her enthusiasm helped her to advance in her career. Yet, many believe that it was only because of her successful marriage that she headed (in 1991) one of Ukraine’s major industrial corporations “Ukrainian Petroleum”. This position made her a fortune.
In 1995, she became the president of Ukraine’s major energy provider, the United Energy Systems of Ukraine. She succeeded in solving the most complicated national problem, which neither the president nor the cabinet of ministers could tackle. In 1995 -1996 and early 1997, Ukraine’s several billion dollar debt to Russia for natural gas was cleared. At the same time, Tymoshenko’s own political and economic power increased greatly. This is probably why she decided to enter politics. She was elected a member of parliament and the head of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) Budget Committee in 1997. She initiated the budget reform and performed her duties very actively.
In December 1999, she was appointed by president Kuchma to her highest position. She served as a vice prime minister for fuel and energy sector in the cabinet of ministers of Ukraine under Prime Minister Lazarenko. She strived to bring the industry out of collapse and managed to establish conditions favorable for its economic growth. Many Ukrainians regard this period as the most stable one since 1992. However, Tymoshenko’s era did not last very long.
We do not know all the details of Ukraine’s smoke-filled rooms of politics, but in August 2000, Tymoshenko’s husband (president of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine) was arrested. In February 2001, Julia Tymoshenko was arrested as well. Lazarenko’s Government was dismissed and accused of several economic crimes, money laundering etc. Tymoshenko explained it as a reaction to her steps to de-criminalize the “backbone” of Ukraine’s economy, its fuel and energy sector. She is sure it was a conspiracy against her by a Ukrainian tycoon. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that she was also one of Ukraine’s energy tycoons at that time.
After spending several months in prison, she was exonerated. Lazarenko is still on trial but not in Ukraine – he’s on trial in the United States.
In February 2001, Tymoshenko headed the united democratic opposition, which demanded the dismissal of President Leonid Kuchma. The president’s key advisor suddenly became the main opponent of his policy.
Today Julia Tymoshenko is a leader of the all-Ukrainian association Batkivshchyna (Motherland), which unites more than 150,00 active Ukrainian citizens. Currently, most influential political parties of Ukraine and more than 500 national and regional public organizations have joined their forces in one election block headed by the Batkivshchyna (Motherland) party leader, Julia Tymoshenko. She proposed the alliance between all opposition parties during the present presidential elections.
No matter what post Julia Tymoshenko has held, she has always strived to achieve the most effective results. She is probably one of the most successful women of the former USSR, as she has made an unbelievable career for a common Soviet woman. However, she still has many achievements ahead of her. Today the peaceful solution of the crisis largely depends on her.
As we see, Julia Tymoshenko is not a person of compromise; she is too confident of her actions to surrender. She has achieved a lot and she wants to attain much more. The price of victory is very high for her. There is no doubt she will use all her effort to win. Her biography demonstrates that no one can predict to what extent she will go to achieve her aims.
Let’s hope her great wisdom will take over her enormous ambitions.