Tymoshenko, Yulia Volodymyrivna

Tymoshenko, Yulia Volodymyrivna, 1960–, Ukrainian political leader, prime minister of Ukraine (2005, 2007–10), b. Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk). She studied economics and cybernetics at Dnipropetrovsk State Univ. and began her career at a state-run engineering plant. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, she directed several energy-related enterprises (1990–98), acquiring significant wealth. Her tenure as head of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (1995–97) led to charges of bribery and corruption in both Ukraine and Russia; both cases were dropped in 2005.

She entered politics in the mid-1990s and was first elected to parliament in 1996. Appointed deputy prime minister in 1999, she was fired by President Leonid Kuchma following her arrest on corruption charges in 2001. Tymoshenko was a powerful voice in rallying support for Viktor Yushchenko's successful presidential campaign, known as the “Orange Revolution,” and became his prime minister in Jan., 2005. The following September, however, he dismissed her for being a divisive force in the government. In 2007, following new elections, her Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and Yushchenko's supporters formed a majority coalition, and she once again became prime minister. She negotiated a gas deal with Russia in 2009 that won lower current prices in exchange for higher future prices.

Tymoshenko placed second in the first round of the 2010 presidential election and then lost to Viktor Yanukovych in the runoff. Her government subsequently lost a confidence vote as Yanukovych formed a governing coalition dominated by his Party of Regions. In 2010–11 she was charged with a number of criminal offenses by the government, and was convicted (2011) of abuse of power for her handling of the 2009 gas deal with Russia; the charges were seen by many as politically motivated. She was released in Feb., 2014, after Yanukovych's government collapsed, and subsequently (May) ran unsuccessfully for president; later that year she was elected to parliament. In 2019 she again was an unsuccessful candidate for president.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Russian, Soviet, and CIS History: Biographies