She is the Queen of the Orange Revolution and Ukrainian Politics
Her political courage and contribution to the development of democracy in Ukraine have garnered legendary status. Her life shows us that sometimes, positive change only comes from activism and determination. We believe that people are like pearls with unique strengths and luster that oysters give to the world. This is another installment of the Living like a Pearl series. Find the other stories here.
She is well-known for pulling Ukraine out of an energy crisis in the early 2000s. Once described as the ‘Queen of the Orange Revolution’, she was Ukraine's first female Prime Minister in 2005, and today is the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" political party.
The revolutionary leader, who would be the most influential woman of Ukraine, was born on November 27, 1960 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union.
In 1979, Yulia married businessman Oleksandr Tymoshenko in 1979, and they welcomed their daughter, Eugenia Tymoshenko on February 20, 1980.
Yulia Tymoshenko graduated from Dnipropetrovsk State University in 1984 with first degree honors as an engineer-economist, majoring in cybernetic engineering. Before her entry into politics, her career as an economist and successful businesswoman in the gas industry garnered her the status of becoming one of the richest people in Ukraine.
She became president of United Energy Systems of Ukraine in 1995 before transitioning into politics. Known for her beauty and a traditional braided hairstyle, Yulia was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 1996, and in 1999 was appointed Deputy Prime Minister for Fuel and Energy.
It was her pivotal role in the Orange Revolution that earned her nicknames by the media of "Joan of Arc of the Revolution” and "Queen of the Orange Revolution”. A campaign of political protests that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, Yulia’s ardent speeches and her role as co-leader led the successful uprising against the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which was claimed to be tarnished with massive corruption, voter intimidation, and electoral fraud.
Yulia served as Prime Minister of Ukraine twice, from January to September 2005, and December 2007 to March 2010. Ranked by Forbes Magazine three times as among the most powerful women in the world, she was placed first in the annual ranking of Ukraine’s most influential women for five years; from 2006 to 2010.
A controversial ruling in October 2011 sentenced her to seven years in prison for the accusation of exceeding her powers as Prime Minister in 2009 regarding a gas deal with Russia. With Amnesty International, the United States, and other Western nations calling her a “political prisoner” in what was widely considered a politically motivated verdict, Yulia was freed from prison in 2014 after two-and-a-half years, most of them spent in a detention hospital, after parliament ordered charges against her to be dropped. She stepped right back into Ukrainian politics, where she continues to play a key role today in the nation, and on the world stage.
Celebrated for her political courage and considered a hero of the country’s 2004 Orange Revolution, Yulia has received much recognition and numerous awards. Most recently, her run for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election garnered worldwide attention, although she conceded defeat despite leading the opinion polls during the campaign. Her courageous political struggles inspired the production of a documentary entitled ‘BELIEVE!, The Yulia Tymoshenko Story’, centered around her run in the 2019 presidential election.
“The planet is in a state of peril, and we present Tymoshenko as a candidate who thinks in terms of reforms that can truly change the world and unite people in combating the refugee crisis, wars, dictatorships and corruption on a global scale. We want to raise the consciousness of people in the U.S. regarding this amazing woman and leader, who will implement a new democratic direction for Ukraine and fight for human rights with radical reforms.” – Mary Lambert, Director / Producer, ‘BELIEVE!, The Yulia Tymoshenko Story’
We can expect to see more from this remarkable woman in the years to come as she continues to fight for the freedoms of Ukraine, and inspire the world with her pearl of political activism.