Princess of Hearts




By Shereen Shabnam

Yulia Tymoshenko, the first ever female appointed as Prime Minister of Ukraine is a dynamic politician with a gentle soul and a regal charisma. Her personality commands focus and attention as she speaks eloquently about issues that she is passionate about.

Starting her day with a 10km run, Yulia balances her personal life and her political career with panache and we were delighted to have a few days with her recently in Kiev.

Born on 27th November 1960, Yulia became Ukraine’s leading and most successful businesswoman in the early stages of her career before moving into politics and was placed third in the 2005 Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women. She hopes to inspire the younger generation of women to aspire towards getting education and being the best in every endeavor they pursue and are passionate about.

Despite being successful in her business career, Yulia left the business to help the community and make a difference to her country as she felt being in a leadership position was the only way positive change could be implemented.

Yulia entered politics in 1996 and from late December 1999 to January 2001, she was the Deputy Prime Minister for the fuel and energy sector. Her aim remains to secure a firm footing for Ukraine on the world stage as a competitive growing independent state that is open for investments, collaborations and progressive development.

Under her leadership, Ukraine’s revenue collections from the electricity industry grew by several thousand percent and reflected her skills in making projects successful. She became prominent during the Orange Revolution, which saw the streets of Ukraine packed in protest of a rigged election with an estimated 500,000 participants.

The Orange alliance took power with Yulia as Prime Minister and she served the Government from 24th January to 8th September 2005 and again from 18th December 2007 to 4th March 2010. She faced many challenges and was even sentenced to seven years in prison unfairly which was viewed as politically biased by many governments.

Amnesty International also slammed the verdict as “politically motivated” while the United States and other Western nations called her “a political prisoner.” She faced many hurdles during this time personally and medically but did not give up on her aim to see her country reform and develop into a thriving nation.

In April 2013 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that her pre-trial detention had been unlawful. Her detention was also opposed by USA and international organizations such as the Human Rights Watch. She was released on 22 February 2014 much to the delight of the Ukrainians who see her as a ray of hope and a catalyst for change.

With the support of the Ukranian people and despite not having any media channels she owns, she is now the opposition leader and a candidate for the next Presidential election.

Yulia focuses on her political career for reforms she feels are needed for the betterment of the country. She strives for Ukraine’s integration into the European Union and supports NATO membership for Ukraine. She wants her country to enhance relations with leading nations so Ukraine can attract more business and be prosperous.

Internally, Yulia regards Ukraine as a united state and hopes for peace and stability. She wants to raise the living standards, bring technology to poorer regions and improve the healthcare sector. She wants to see better infrastructure, investments by international companies and generally smiles and hope on the faces of the Ukrainians.

Yulia hopes to collaborate with prosperous countries and sees countries like the UAE as models of success and hopes to establish strong economic links with the region to help Ukraine prosper. She feels that there are a lot of internal reforms to look at first to set the foundation for a better future.

Currently, Yulia feels that Ukraine is not growing at its full potential and that the world is looking at Ukraine with the upheavals the country faces. She mentions the way Ukraine responds will have an impact on the investment climate and affect how the country moves economically into the future.

As a political leader who has sacrificed a lot personally and her business career for her country, Yulia hopes that the trials and tribulations she has been through has not been in vain and that changes and reforms will take place for the better.

Yulia and her team view Ukraine as a white canvas where a huge potential sits with talented human capital, natural resources and a hunger to succeed. The country has the best mathematicians, medical professions and inventors who excel in their fields but need exposure to the world.

One of Yulia’s concerns is the fact that the country’s development seems stagnant and requires urgent attention. Her focus will be on promoting agriculture and improving infrastructure as well as living standards of the citizens.

On the personal front, Yulia remains a positive soul and mentions she was most inspired by her mother who has a strong personality. Yulia is married to businessman Oleksandr Tymoshenko and has a daughter, Eugenia who is a graduate of the London School of Economics.

Her role model is Margaret Thatcher and other women leaders in the world. She is also close to her daughter Eugenia who has supported her through many challenging times.

Meeting Yulia was an informative and inspiring experience. She is gracious and has a regal demeanor of a warm and welcoming host yet with a firmness of a politician who is serious about initiating positive change. Her charming disposition will help her gain friends amongst the world leaders and her economic sense is bound to steer Ukraine towards becoming a dynamic and prosperous nation under her leadership. We wish Yulia and her team success in all their endeavours.