It will be remembered that it was Yulia Tymoshenko’s former fellow party member and a political teacher, so to say, Pavlo Lazarenko, who awarded her the title of an “outstanding opposition activist.” Several years later, in 2010, when the presidential campaign was in full swing, Tymoshenko’s chief rival, Viktor Yanukovych, acknowledged this point of view, saying that the role of an opposition activist was inherent to Tymoshenko and that she would be a very efficient opposition leader capable of getting in the hair of the authorities. Although somewhat sarcastic and revealing his superiority complex (he managed to score by 10% votes more than Tymoshenko in the first round of elections), these words were quite true.
Indeed, Tymoshenko was prepared to feel herself an opposition leader and work in opposition more than many other Ukrainian politicians. Eventually, each time Tymoshenko tried to break away from the opposition niche into the open of supreme authority, she, nonetheless, arranged this niche to make it comfortable for herself, trying to expand the opposition space as much as possible and change its routine environment.
While in opposition, Yulia Tymoshenko sang praises to herself and to her political supporters.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“The previous elections [parliamentary polls of 2006 – the author] showed: we are the power that will unite Ukraine. We won in 14 regions, and were second or third in the rest. It means that people in the majority of regions sympathize with us and pin hopes for justice on us.”
“Whatever hard time our team and myself are facing now, I want you to know that I am not going to give up, I am not going to drop my job, I am not going to lose my heart. I am ready to travel this way. Today, when I was driving here, I listened to the speech Viktor Yushchenko had delivered in the European Square during the presidential campaign. This is what he said, I quote: ‘I vow bandits will never rule this country.’ He raised this banner and now he has hauled it down. And I am taking up this banner, and I believe all strong people of Ukraine will soon be under this banner.”
“Our opponents are annoyed with many things, including our team’s skills to speak with the people. Everything is harmonious in our team and our opponents are shocked to see it... If it irks anyone to see that people love and respect me, I can only recommend these people to take it as a given. More to it, I promise that as long as I am in politics, this love, respect and confidence will only grow stronger.”
These and many other similar pronouncements where the opposition leader speaks about herself in superlative degrees will be of little help for us if we want to understand the real opposition role played by Yulia Tymoshenko and the political force she led. For these ends, other sources will be much more useful. So, it is important to outline the typology, structural characteristics, chronology, and, what is most important, the core of her political activity.
Theoretically, several types of opposition activities are singled out based on classification criteria, such as:
- political affiliation – right, left, and centrist;
- ideology – socialist, communist, liberal, conservative, etc.;
- attitude to the authorities – loyal or non-loyal;
- degree of legitimacy – parliament, off-parliament, etc.
As concerns such criterion as the character of communication, the opposition can be classified as radical, reformist, revolutionary, or even false. So, it looks an uneasy task to place Yulia Tymoshenko in such “multi-layer” typologies, since, first, she has gone through several stages of learning the “science of opposition”, and, second, she has always been sticking to the eclectic style of political conduct.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s opposition life is much longer than the history of her being in power. Over the 13 years of her political career– from December 1996 to December 2009 – she was in opposition for more than nine years! This period was topfull of events varying in the degree of importance and bringing about different consequences. It can be broken into several stages.
Stage one began in 1997 and ended in February 2001, when Yulia Tymoshenko was arrested and spent 42 days in a detention ward.
Stage two lasted till late 2004 – early 2005 and was crowned by the so-called “orange revolution.”
Stage three, the “post-orange” one, included her going into opposition from 2005 to 2007.
Stage four began with the presidential elections of 2010, when Yulia Tymoshenko lost to her rival, Viktor Yanukovych, and had to go in opposition again.
Each of these periods was characterized by specific tendencies, but all of them have certain common features that can throw light on the phenomenon of Yulia Tymoshenko as an opposition leader.
So, stage one of Tymoshenko’s opposition activities. Even now that many years have elapsed since then, her business career and certain facts of her personal life prior to her coming to big politics leave little room for doubts that she had opted for politics in a bid to sidestep possible criminal prosecution or even possible imprisonment. Suffice it to mention that even prior to the large-scale probes into the activity of the United Energy System of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko had been “caught” twice – at the Zaporozhia airport and at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport – when she was trying to take undeclared currency out of the country. Back in the summer of 1995, the Tymoshenko couple was tabloid headliner number one: when the Tymoshenkos were boarding a jet bound for Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, they were found to have as many as $100,000 in their carry-on luggage, in a bag with bread and sausage. When the police were seizing the money, Yulia Tymoshenko was so nervous that she fainted. Notably, it was the first and the last time when she demonstrated such weakness. Ever since, she has never allowed herself to lose self-control (at least in the presence of others), even when kept in a detention ward for 45 days. Back then, in 1995, both incidents were swept under the carpet thanks to insistent involvement of top-ranking patrons. So, it was these blunders that prompted Tymoshenko to seek parliamentary immunity, according to observers.
Anyway, she made it to the parliament in late 1996. But she was rather a frightened businesswoman than a politically mature opposition activist. Her protest moods were rather vague and unshaped. It took time and more contingencies for her to evolve from a situation-dependent protester to a staunch opposition activist. At first, she was quite ready to change her status from an opposition leader to a top-ranking government official, should an opportunity turn up. Thus, despite her pervious violent criticism of Leonid Kuchma’s policy and numerous calls to impeach the president, she did not hesitate to take up the post a deputy prime minister in charge of the fuel and energy sector in December 1999. She stayed in office for a year, till January 2001.
When Yulia Tymoshenko won a seat in the parliament, the opposition niche there was occupied by a group of anti-government and anti-presidential factions, but all of them were leftist parties – the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU), the Communist and Socialist Parties, and the Peasant Party of Ukraine. Unlike the notion of ‘left opposition,’ the term “right-wing opposition” was non-existent in Ukraine’s political landscape until the early 2000s. However, the center-right faction of the People’s Movement of Ukraine referred to itself as a constructive opposition. The party Hromada that won parliamentary seats somewhat later had called itself “non-left opposition” in a bid to dissociate itself from the People’s Movement of Ukraine. Lawmakers representing big and medium businesses, as well as officialdom, preferred to demonstrate their loyalty to the existing regime and never used opposition terminology.
However the cluster analysis of faction and roll-call voting at plenary sessions of the Verkhovna Rada in 1998 reveals a gap between these self identifications and the real state of things. In some cases, what party factions said about themselves only reflected what they wanted to be thought of them rather than what they really were. Thus, the “constructive opposition” represented by the People’s Movement of Ukraine turned out to be in the same boat with the pro-presidential and pro-government right-wing factions, while “non-leftist” Hromada joined the left opposition wing demonstrating opposition attitudes similar to those of the radical Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine.
Nonetheless, adding their votes to leftist factions, Tymoshenko and her supporters sought to position themselves as a separate political force that had little in common with the others. But it was not clear what kind of force they though themselves to be, since both Hromada and later Batkivshchyna had been formed and operated as instrumentalist rather than ideological parties. This is why, depending on the situation, or maybe even on her moods, Yulia Tymoshenko called herself the leader of either a center-left or centrist party. Later on, when she was Prime Minister, Tymoshenko used to say she was inspired by the British politician and Conservative Party leader, Margaret Thatcher, and hoped to emulate such European center-right leaders as Nicolas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel. Addressing lawmakers at the beginning of her political career in 1998, Tymoshenko kept on saying:
“I am confident that common sense will get the upper hand. We are neither leftists nor rightists, neither are we conservatives nor radicals, neither a pro-presidential nor an anti-presidential force.”
“We should not divide our society into socialists, communists, or supporters of the People’s Movement. All of us have a common goal – to build a normal, sense-ruled society. And if we set this goal, I am sure we are bound to reach consensus.”
For quite a long period, she preferred not to affiliate herself with any of the political trends, seeking to be just a “normal politician,” a person of “common sense,” an advocate of “Ukrainian patriotism,” and a politician “caring for ordinary people” in the eyes of her voters. But outside the relatively narrow circle of her fellow party members, she was dubbed a populist, in the most unflattering sense of this word as a “lavish with promises politician seeking popularity through mob oratory, flirting with people and speculating in their expectations.”
Political opponents accused each other of demonstrating populist approached in the worst sense of the word. In 2007, Ukraine’s former Prime Minister and a member of the Party of Regions faction, Anatoliy Kinakh, said Tymoshenko’s decree to pay a compensation of up to 1,000 hryvnias to people who had lost their money deposited with the USSR Savings Bank was nothing more but cynical populism. The harshest words about Tymoshenko’s policy came from Viktor Yushchenko, who said her policy was “stinking, shallow populism of 1917,” which was of little help in the time of crisis and for which she should be punished.
In turn, Tymoshenko, then in opposition, accused the Yanukovych government of “real populism,” especially after tariffs for housing and utilities services were raised. Meanwhile, Tymoshenko’s supporters made shy attempts to rehabilitate the mere term “populism,” rendering it neutral or even positive connotations. However they failed to do that, as they failed to rid their leader of the populist label. Notably, it was Yulia Tymoshenko who scored the biggest number of user votes in the category of “populist leader” in a polling organized by the website Populizm.com ahead of the presidential elections of 2010.
Looking back on Yulia Tymoshenko’s statements of the mid- and late 1990s, it seems that she had really believed in the reformatory talents of the new business elite, where she belonged herself. It looks like she did think that accurate and pragmatic steps made by representatives of the financial and business community delegated to the parliament would bring about desired results. She really though that her parliament membership could help change the country’s political life. She thought that pooled efforts of lawmakers from among efficient top-managers were enough for that. “Corporate intellect with Yuila Tymoshenko’s face offer its services to the Ukrainian government to help conduct market reforms in the country,” journalists used to write with bitter irony.
These inflated estimates of the political potential of the national financial and business elite revealed first signs of Tymoshenko’s growing Napoleon Complex. But this is not the point. As a matter of fact, they reflected certain tendencies in Ukraine’s political life of that period. According to some observers, the strategic goal of businessmen who came to the legislative bodies in the late 1990s was to change the economic policy and ultimately the system of power. Some even said that it was quite probable that lawmakers from among politician were soon to fall under the influence of lawmakers from the business community.
From the very start of her political career, being a member of the Pavlo Lazarenko-led Hromada, Tymoshenko had been learning radical opposition techniques. Thus, Hromada’s political demands included not only the change of the political leader, i.e. President Leonid Kuchma, but also the change of the political regime. At a party conference in July 1997, Tymoshenko accused the president of seeking to establish a totalitarian rule and announced plans to initiate his impeachment.
Another attack on the president followed in September 1998, when Tymoshenko initiated a signature collecting campaign to organize a nationwide referendum on no-confidence to the incumbent president and early presidential elections. Later on, Yulia Tymoshenko, a lawmaker at the time, threatened to initiate impeachment procedures more than once. But because of the cobwebs of Ukraine’s law (impeachment procedures are not fixed in detail in laws, although such a norm is mentioned in the national constitution), such threats were just a figure of speech having no legal force. In any case, for a time being Tymoshenko was virtually obsessed with the idea of having Kuchma step down, by any means.
As for changes in the political system, the issue of introducing amendments to the national constitution was first raised by Pavlo Lazarenko, when he quitted the prime minister’s office and was the leader of Hromada. In the run-up to the parliamentary elections of February 1998, he said that his party, in a bloc with other political forces, would demand changes in the Ukrainian constitution to authorize the Verkhovna Rada to form a government, to vest full authority in the prime minister, leaving the president enjoy only representative capacities. Back then, Yulia Tymoshenko also said she was an advocate of the idea of a parliamentary republic and supported relevant amendments to the constitution.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s speech.
“Today, [in September 1998 – T.G.] there are no grounds for vesting the entire, uncontrolled power in the hands of one person who might lack high standards of morality or professional competence. That is why I am in favor of a parliamentary republic. We have elaborated amendments to the constitution, and the sooner the parliament has political will to adopt them the sooner we will be able to get rid of what we are now having in the country.”
It should be noted that later on the issue of constitutional amendments was central to Tymoshenko’s opposition oratory.
In 1998-1999, the parliament was the key arena for opposition activities. Tymoshenko took effort to consolidate lawmakers, regardless of their faction membership, for joint action against the president and the pro-presidential government. Taking the floor at parliament sessions, she lavished compliments on the lawmakers and invited them for cooperation.
But these efforts were to no avail. And not because it was practically an unrealizable task to consolidate the politically heterogeneous parliament that incorporated numerous formal and informal associations (factions, groups and amalgamations). But mainly because representatives of big businesses who came to the parliament in 1998 were not inclined to be in opposition to the president, whose policy, by the way, paved the way for the rise of the Ukrainian business elite that ultimately came to power.
In late 1998 – early 1999, the Verkhovna Rada lived through a period of an explosive growth of new right and center-right factions and groups, which were formed from among members of parties that had failed to win seats in the legislature. Ukraine’ Constitutional Court cancelled restrictions on faction formation that had been imposed by the Verkhovna Rada on May 13, 1998. Under that resolution, only parties that scored at least 4% of the vote at the parliamentary elections were allowed to form factions. With this restrictions lifted, right-wing factions began to emerge in the Ukrainian parliament. These factions – the faction of Viktor Pynzenyk’s Reforms and Order Party, the Labor Ukraine faction, and the lawmaker group Revival of Regions (the cradle of the Party of Regional Revival of Ukraine that would finally be forged as the Party of Regions) – represented interests of various groups of the new Ukrainian bourgeoisie.
It is worth saying that in the run-up to the presidential elections of 1999 parliamentary factions became polarized, with well-shaped poles in the “right-left” continuum and vague intermediate forms. The parliamentary center, which might have served as a basis for forming a pro-presidential majority, had no clear boundaries, was amorphous in terms of organizational structure and fuzzy in terms of ideology, since it used both rightist and leftist rhetoric. Inter-faction relations were characterized by a highest degree of confrontation.
Leftist and center-left factions could boast strict party discipline, collectivism, and in-faction consolidation. Their members demonstrated strong sense of party affiliation and tended to concentrate on humanistic aspects of legislative activity. Their opposition attitudes were realized in extensive criticism of the authorities. Their weak points included a bent for dogmatism and conservatism, confrontational style of politics and too much of opposition attitudes, which impeded wider involvement in decision-making, and mutual suspiciousness (leftist lawmakers kept a vigilant eye upon each other ready to expose any signs of pro-presidential attitudes should their colleagues demonstrate any). Populism was among their favorite political tools. But excessive social promises to voters grew into an intolerable burden, so populism developed menacing proportions.
Among advantages of rightist and center-right factions in that period were social-democratic ideology, orientation towards universal values and human rights. Advocates of these views were successful, mature people who had managed not only to adapt to the new conditions but had these conditions adapted to their own interests. But they too had their weak points – being self-centered people, they pursued corporate interests and lacked integration. Claiming to be elitist, they lacked party discipline, their program goals were rather vague and their actions lacked coordination. Moreover, they were constantly indulging in rivalry for leadership.
So, whereas left forces were a hostage of their liabilities to the poor and low-income, right forces turned to be a hostage of wealth and power.
Obviously, the character of Yulia Tymoshenko’s opposition moods (as well as those of her party) combined advantages and disadvantages of both leftist and rightist opposition. Trapped between the Scylla of anti-presidential left forces and the Charybdis of pro-presidential right factions, Batkivshchyna could side with both. And Batkivshchyna did this trick when it refrained, for a time being, from criticism of President Kuchma in December 1999 and delegated its leader to take the office of a deputy prime minister in charge of the fuel and energy sector in the Viktor Yushchenko cabinet.
Apart from that, in January 2000, Batkivshchyna supported the so-called “velvet revolution” in the parliament, which was geared to oust left factions and set up a pro-presidential right majority. Leonid Kuchma, who had won his second presidential office, was not going to put up with leftist opposition majority in the Verkhovna Rada. So, it was a key task for the president and the parties that backed him to change the in-parliament balance of forces without early elections.
To reach their goals, eleven factions left the building of the Verkhovna Rada to organize a parallel session at the Ukrainian House. It was there that they announced the formation of a new parliamentary majority, changes in the steering bodies of the country’s supreme legislature, the removal of Speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko and the election of Ivan Plyushch, a member of the executive committee of the pro-presidential People’s Democratic Party, as a new Speaker.
Notably, these procedures were far from being faultless from the point of view of law. Some observers even said it was a “velvet fraud” rather than a “velvet revolution.” Nonetheless, the left minority in the long run had to knuckle under to the rightist majority. It did not take long for the parliament to turn from a “territory of non-love” (as journalist S. Rakhmanin put it) to a zone of benevolent loyalty to the president and the government.
Batkivshchyna took a very active part in these processes, siding with the rightist majority. This twist helped Batkivshchyna considerably consolidate its positions in the reshaped parliament. It looked like President Kuchma had forgiven Tymoshenko, obviously reluctantly, for her previous pronouncements calling for “ousting the unprofessional, incompetent, venal and criminal authority.” It was obvious that saying this she had meant the president. Moreover, Kuchma assented to the proposal of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko and offered the post of deputy prime minister to Tymoshenko, who, in turn, voiced support to the president and spoke in favor of amending the constitution to fix the norms of a strong presidential republic. As a result, Batkivshchyna managed to consolidate its positions in the parliament – its representation in the Verkhovna Rada went up from 23 seats in May 1999 to 35 seats in March 2000.
Anyway, the period of Tymoshenko’s loyalty to President Leonid Kuchma was quite short. Relations between them began to worsen by mid-2000. Growing claims to Tymoshenko’s performance as deputy prime minister responsible for the fuel and energy sector provoked oppositionist moods in Batkivshchyna’s parliamentary faction. In June 2000, Kuchma came down on the government for “the organizational collapse of Ukraine’s energy system” and warned he would not let government members use the fuel and energy sector in their political interests. In September, Tymoshenko came under severe criticism for the gas deal she had signed with Turkmenistan for the period of 2000-2010.
Tymoshenko’s faction that officially was a member of the pro-presidential majority was feverish. Its members tended to side either with the rightist majority or with the leftist opposition, depending on the situation. In September 2000, Ukraine was shaken by a scandal over the disappearance of a critically-minded opposition journalist, Georgiy Gongadze, who had steered the Internet project for the protection of independent journalists Ukrainian Truth. In November 2000, a headless body was found in the Kiev region that was later identified as Georgiy Gongadze.
Soon, the Gongadze case grew into a high-profile Cassette Scandal, also known as Tapegate or Kuchmagate. The scandal started on November 28, 2000, when Ukrainian center-left politician Oleksandr Moroz publicly accused President Kuchma, Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko and the head of the presidential administration of involvement in the abduction of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. Moroz named Kuchma's former bodyguard, Major Mykola Melnychenko, as the source. He also played selected recordings of the president's secret conversations for journalists, supposedly confirming Kuchma's order to kidnap Gongadze.
Following the Gongadze case and the Cassette Scandal, Oleksandr Moroz’s Left Center group and Viktor Pynzenyk’s Reform Congress faction formed an irreconcilable opposition in the Verkhovna Rada. Some time later, it incorporated a broad anti-presidential coalition promptly formed by Petro Poroshenko’s Solidarity, some members of the faction of the Ukrainian People’s Party and the People’s Movement of Ukraine, and Batkivshchyna, which was then worried over the so-called Tymoshenko case.” These people voted to set up a commission to probe into the Gongadze case.
It was the end of stage one of Tymoshenko’s opposition activity. Looking back at this period, it should be noted that her efforts helped form the basis for an in-parliament opposition that could be characterized as “combined” opposition. In conditions of the transitional and immature post-Soviet political system and society, Tymoshenko and her fellow party members easily shifted from the right-wing to the left-wing positions, changing their views from pro-presidential to anti-presidential, in each particular case being guided by considerations of expediency and efficiency from the point of view of attaining their immediate goals.
As for opposition actions, they were carried out within the frame for the then political system with its institutional structures and were in no way revolutionary, or even radical. Instruments of opposition struggle included statements by Yulia Tymoshenko and her fellow faction members, party’s program documents, participation in the shadow cabinet, party congresses and meetings that adopted various party documents, etc.
Anyway, subsequent developments opened stage two of Tymoshenko’s opposition career, when her behavior changed dramatically. It was a period when Tymoshenko focused not on intra-systemic, in-parliament opposition but concentrated her efforts on the organization and leadership of mass opposition. From 2001 to 2005, the woman who used to be restricted by parliamentary rules and regulations turned into a warrioress, a leader of grass-roots street protest, a Ukraine’s darling, and an icon for protest voters.
It is worth noting that protesters against Kuchma’s policy took to the streets shortly after Gongadze’s disappearance. The first Ukraine without Kuchma action on December 15, 2000 drew 24 political parties and association, including the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Sobor (Assembly), the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defence, the Reforms and Order Party, the Ukrainian Republican Party, and others. The action was led by Oleksandr Moroz of the Socialist Party of Ukraine. Another member of that party, Yuri Lutsenko, was in charge of the practical organization of street protests (officially, he was said to be the coordinator of the movement). The protesters set up a tent encampment in the center of Kiev and demanded the soonest resignation of the president, the interior minister and other top-ranking law enforcers. The first action soon grew into an entire campaign that lasted for several months.
On January 5, 2001, the prosecutor’s office brought corruption and money laundry organization charges against Yulia Tymoshenko. Some time later, Ukraine’s prosecutor general ruled to remove her from office and President Kuchma sent her to resignation on January 19. Out of job and out of favor, the former first deputy prime minister joined the opposition. As a matter of fact, she had good reasons to do that, since having vacated her parliament seat to take the office in the government, Tymoshenko had to cede parliamentary immunity. She even claimed that offering her a top-ranking government position, President Kuchma had only sought to entice her from the parliament to make her exposed to criminal prosecution.
After the resignation, Tymoshenko, as a leader of the Batkivshchyna party, virtually burst into opposition, becoming a co-founder of the National Salvation Forum, which came into being overnight from February 8 to February 9, 2001. The Forum sought to be a grass-roots off-parliament civil organization capable of becoming an intermediary between the parliament and street protesters. The Forum formed a coordination council of 15 members, which included Oleksandr Moroz of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, Tymoshenko’s staunch supporter, and her future partners in the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), Anatoly Matviyenko, Levko Lukyanenko, Stepan Khmara, and others. The National Salvation Forum proclaimed its goal in consolidating all political forces in Ukraine to overthrow “Leonid Kuchma’s criminal regime.” The Forum demanded impeachment of the president and changes in the country’s political system to make it a parliamentary republic.
Off parliament, free from its regulations and ethics, opposition activists consolidated all their speechwriter skills and used their imagination to the full stretch to produce deadly evidence exposing the authorities and come out with bold calls. Thus, the National Salvation Forum’s Manifesto read the following:
- the period of Kuchma’s presidency is a wasted time for the country;
- his regime is turning into a dictatorship and tyranny;
- Kuchma and his team are gravediggers of the freedom of speech and democracy;
- the country is ruled by a handful of criminals who rig everything: the parliamentary elections of 1998 and the presidential elections of 1999.
The National Salvation Forum’s leaders were quite plain saying that they wanted a bloodless, “velvet,” revolution.
Being unable to have her say in the struggle to change the situation in the Verkhovna Rada (in her own favor, of course), Yulia Tymoshenko opted for the only right and the shortest, as she might have thought, path to victory and came at the head of radical off-parliament opposition. But this opposition was then far from being really grass-roots. However the Batkivshchyna leader had little doubt she would have all the support and backing from her party.
Now, it is hard to imagine what her political career might have been like but for her more than a month’s stay in a detention ward. Of course, it was a real trial for her, but, strange as might seem, this 42-day stay at the Lukyanovskaya penitentiary was a “princely gift” to opposition activist Yulia Tymoshenko from the country’s authorities. And she was wise and bold enough to use this symbolic capital acquired in a dirty, wet and cold prison cell with maximum efficiency.
She was arrested on February 13, 2001 on charges of illegal gas supplies in 1996-1997 and transferring about $80 million of bribing money to former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko’s accounts with foreign banks. Notably, the arrest was preceded by years of investigation and prosecutor’s probes. Already in the summer of 1997, the United Energy System of Ukraine (UESU) was accused of tax evasion to a sum of 1.5 billion hryvnias and of having a $300 million debt for Russian gas. In February 2000, Ukrainian police launched a probe into the case of Slavyansky Bank owned by Yulia Tymoshenko. In August 2000, Tymoshenko’s husband, Oleksandr, and UESU’s former vice president Valeriy Falkovich were taken in custody. In November 2000, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Mykhailo Potebenko said a team of Russian investigators was probing into a bribery case at the Russian defence ministry, in which Yulia Tymoshenko had been involved. The criminal case was opened in Russia on charges of improper use of funds (bribe-taking and overestimating Ukrainian goods supplied to the Russian defence ministry). Russian investigators visited Kiev to interrogate Yulia Tymoshenko.
Over those years, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office had submitted four requests to the Verkhovna Rada demanding parliamentary immunity be stripped off Yulia Tymoshenko. The parliament however refused to consider this issue each time. Tymoshenko then admitted that being under a threat of criminal prosecution for such a long time, she had been prepared, both morally and physically, to be arrested at any moment: “I was prepared for being taken to prison and always had a bag with necessary belongings on me, just in case.”
Along with this legendary bag, she probably had a scenario of her conduct in case of a possible arrest, a script of her part to play while in custody, since such an energetic and enterprising person like her could not knuckle under to any circumstances. She behaved in a rather courageous way. But, to a greater extent, it was an ostentatious courage: it was meant to impress the world. And the world was impressed.
President Kuchma recalled that Tymoshenko had been arrested when he was not in Kiev. The first word he said when learning about Tymoshenko’s arrest was “idiots,” since he obviously sided with Mykola Tomenko who was quoted as saying that the opposition should be grateful to the one who had initiated Tymoshenko’s arrest. Kuchma could not but admit: “A martyr has emerged in Ukraine’s politics, and the clumsiness of the authorities only helped her.”
Being paralyzed and disoriented by the Gongadze case and the Cassette Scandal, the president could only watch the rapidly developing situation around the Lukyanovskaya penitentiary and its inmate who won a worldwide popularity overnight. Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Nina Karpacheva, visited Tymoshenko in prison. Tymoshenko’s lawyers and lawmakers indulged in details of her detention and conditions she was kept in prison. Very soon, general public learnt that she was tortured, that schemes of her liquidation were being plotted (either through a feigned suicide, a hear attack, or food poisoning), that she was mistreated and that the conditions she was being kept in were intolerable. So, Tymoshenko’s pre-trial detention was depicted as an event of nation-wide importance and millions of people were closely following the development of this situation. As a matter of fact, it was a hardcore political show, which was another rusty nail driven into the reputation of President Kuchma. Each day Tymoshenko spent in custody was playing in her hands, enrolling ever more support for her and bringing down the ratings of the incumbent authorities.
As soon as Tymoshenko was put in custody, a protest campaign unfolded all over Ukraine (staged, of course, by Batkivshchyna and steered by its parliament faction) demanding her immediate release. In February-March 2001, photos of posters reading such slogans as “I haven’t broken down, and you?,” “Yulya, our sympathies are with you!,” “Yulya, your are our spring!,” “Our hearts and flowers – to Yulia!,” “Free Yulia Tymoshenko!” hit the headlines in many world media.
Tymoshenko’s release on March 27 was triumphant: she was carried out of the prison literally by hand, smothered in flowers. From now on, no one could challenge her reputation as an opposition leader and many of her more experienced fellow party members could only envy her authority among people. Her prison term might have impacted her health, causing anguish of body and mind but it cleared her way to charismatic leadership in the opposition.
Once freed from her second prison term in April 2001, Tymoshenko plunged into the campaign for the parliamentary elections of 2002. And here, the Batkivshchyna leader was faced with a serious problem: she had to ally with other political forces. Some words about the formation of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc on the basis of the National Salvation Forum were already said in the previous chapter. Here, I would only like to note that over the period of her opposition activities, Tymoshenko had learnt to appreciate support and take into account potential advantages of allied relations even with those who seemed to be poles apart from her.
Thus, a businessman who had contacted with Yulia Tymoshenko in early 1990s recalled that at that time she had sounded utterly cynical, using foul language in abundance and never showing any respect to any one she had known. People had been either useful for her or not. She had demonstrated irritation and disdain when speaking about nationalists. Nonetheless, nationalist leaders were among the first to join her Bloc some years later. It was the nationalists who worked on her popularity in those regions where she used to have little influence.
But there seemed to be no “prisoners of conscience,” human rights activists or political prisoners, whatever respected they might be, who could offer her the support she needed to win the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Such support could come only from Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the Our Ukraine party bloc and a respectable politician at that time, who had an overwhelming support in Ukraine’s western region, who was loved by the West and backed by the United States and the Ukrainian diaspora. He was the most desired partner for Tymoshenko and she tried hard to win his support. Tymoshenko confessed that she had had the experience of joint work with Yushchenko, when they had worked on the 1999-2000 budget. He was governor of Ukraine’s National Bank, and she headed the Verkhovna Rada’s budgetary committee then. “We had different views on relations between the National Bank and the government,” she recalled. “When we were trying to bridge this gap, we understood that we felt at home working in a single team.”
I late 2001, Tymoshenko had at least two major strategic goals. First, she needed to set up a coalition with two political forces, Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and Oleksandr Moroz’s Socialist Party, which had little in common with each other. Her second task was to form anti-residential protest political networks she could control. Both tasks were not very easy ones.
To achieve her first goal she needed different patterns of communication with each of her potential partners. So, she tried to “save” Yushchenko from excessive liberal views, to keep him from a deal with the authorities and existentialist conformism. As for Moroz, she did her best to cut him off the leftist camp.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“Some say Viktor Andreyevich [Yushchenko – T.G.] is, you know, a cunning Khokhol [a derogatory term for ethnic Ukrainians, as it was a common haircut of Ukrainian Cossacks featuring a lock of hair sprouting from the top or the front of an otherwise closely shaven head – translator] who is seeking to lull Leonid Kuchma’s vigilance to sweep the elections and hit the presidential jackpot. It is the most absurd allegation... A politician who seeks to blunt the vigilance of his open rivals by means of siding with them inevitably becomes a member of their team... Today, Viktor Andreyevich has an ideal chance and a potentially ideal team to become really free. Concessions, compromises or constructive talks with the authorities will never give him such freedom.”
As concerns Moroz, the Batkivshchyna leader was worried over quite different problems.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“The trouble is that rejecting Moroz we are pushing him towards the Communists. He has no other choice. He needs to pursue the policy he deems constructive, almost social democratic... And we are literally throwing him out to the Communists...”
Ironically, Tymoshenko pronounced such disloyal words in respect of the Communists shortly after she had stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Communist leader, Petro Simonenko, in the Ukraine without Kuchma protest campaign.
So, it looks like Tymoshenko felt strong enough to realize her own vision of the political strategy, of the forms of opposition struggle and the nature of political alliances. After her prison saga, President Kuchma became her chief personal enemy and she had no other choice but to crush him down. So, any means were acceptable to have him step down. Naturally, political likes and dislikes of her potential allies mattered little to her as far as Kuchma’s resignation was concerned. The chief criteria she applied to enroll partners was their hatred towards the incumbent president and their determination to have him resigned. Oleksandr Moroz did have such feelings and determination, maybe even in abundance. But Yushchenko could hardly be dubbed as “Kuchma-hater.”
Moreover, on February 13, 2001, the day of Tymoshenko’s arrest, Yushchenko, along with Kuchma and Ivan Plyushch, came out with an address to the nation “over unfolding unprecedented political campaign showing signs of a psychological war.” The three declared “the unity of their positions and approaches,” their “commitment to rebuff political destructivism.” The statement read: “Not long ago, we witnessed the birth of the widely advertised National Salvation Forum built on no one knows which principles. The leaders of this motley aggregation, harboring grudges for their own political defeats and failures, are only seeking survival. Not for the state, not for the nation, but for themselves – they are seeking to avoid political bankruptcy and oblivion , and some of them are seeking to sidestep criminal liability.” The president of Ukraine, the parliament speaker and the prime minister pledged to repulse such attempts in the interests of the Ukrainian people. So, evidently, Yushchenko was not among those who were meeting Tymoshenko with flowers as she emerged from the detention ward.
So, it must have seemed rather strange when Tymoshenko came out with an open letter to Yushchenko offering him to come to the head of the united election bloc of the National Salvation Forum, Our Ukraine and the Moroz bloc, which sought to win up to 50 percent of seats in a new parliament.
Till the very beginning of the election campaign, Tymoshenko kept on approaching Yushchenko with her proposal, in public and behind the scenes, enticing him into a promising union and seducing him by triumphant parliament perspectives. She spared no effort to cultivate “grapes of wrath,” to stir up his hatred towards the president, to provoke sharp words and radical acts. She wanted him to declare a war against President Kuchma, as she had done herself.
The content analysis of Tymoshenko’s speeches in 2001 reveals that Yushchenko’s name was mentioned much more often than the name of any other Ukrainian politician. But even then, when she cherished hopes for a long and fruitful union, when she lavished flattering words on him, her rhetoric began to depict him as a weak, indecisive, feeble and short-sighted politician.
“I did everything I could, and even more, to make this association come true. But Viktor Andreyevich chose another path – the path of compromises and deals with the authorities. And the latter let his bloc stay intact.”
“There are no grounds for the authorities to be afraid of Our Ukraine. It is good enough, polite enough, obedient enough.”
“I would want Viktor Andreyevich to side with us... But obviously it is not meant to be... Yushchenko has yielded to Kuchma. He might have been bluffed and scared by some incriminatory evidence the authorities are digging up against any politician... That is why, I think, he is coming closer to Kuchma.”
"Viktor Andreyevich is a man who is strongly influenced by other people's advise...Practically all people who give him advise have absolutely nothing in common with Viktor Andreyevich's interests, they have absolutely nothing in common with the interests of the country."
"I still believe that his love for Ukraine will get the upper hand over minute-serving selfish interests, over fears and his desire to be liked by all. "
"I wonder if he had ever asked himself what he was going to do when his new political team begins to save its face in eyes of the entire world betraying national interests like it is doing now. Self-abhorrence will be an atonement for conformism."
So, the "union of the three" (Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Moroz) would never be formed because of these contradictions. Each of them opted for his or her own path to the parliament, not hindering however the canvassing campaigns of the others.
As concerns political networks (task number two), opposition forces continued their open-ended Ukraine without Kuchma actions in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. And though their potential was already exhausted and mass protests no longer expanded, such actions were getting on the nerves of the authorities and made it possible for the opposition to maintain an impression of grass-roots support. Moreover, opposition Internet resources (Grani, Ukrainska Pravda, and Maidan) were united into a single Internet portal Ukraine without Kuchma.
Nevertheless, before the elections, in 2002, even the most experienced and well-versed in Ukrainian politics experts were rather skeptical about Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc's potential. This Bloc was said to be in the zone of high risk and was not supposed to win seats in the parliament. Opinion polls demonstrated that the BYuT's ratings were from two to four percent (thus, according to the A. Razumkov Center, the Bloc's rating was 3.9%). Experts expected that the BYuT's canvassing campaign would be flavored with scandals and its leaders would seek to challenge the voting results.
But the actual results came as a surprise for many - the Bloc scored 7.26% of votes and won 23 seats in the Ukrainian parliament. Taken together with Our Ukraine, which won 23.57% of votes at the parliamentary elections (109 seats), they could potentially form a strong opposition force. But such a union between the Our Ukraine and the BYuT factions seemed impossible, since the former tended for compromises and represented moderate opposition, while the latter was a situational "pool of the die-hard opposition" (Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, the Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Communist Party of Ukraine).
On August 24, 2002, the day of the 11th anniversary of Ukraine's independence, President Leonid Kuchma came out with an address to the nation, where he proposed a principally new concept of political reforms in Ukraine. It provided for: (1) the transition from the presidential-parliamentary republic to a parliamentary-presidential republic; (2) the introduction of a proportional (party) voting system to replace the mixed (majority-proportional) system; (3) and an administrative territorial reform.
Tymoshenko was skeptical about the presidential initiatives. She said Ukraine should remain the presidential-parliamentary republic but "with a very serious harmonization of the distribution of competencies between the power branches." She said it would be a grave mistake to support the parliamentary form of government, since "today's politics and the parliament are seized by big politico-financial groups that can use their money and their influences on the executive power and the mass media to manipulate the parliament."
Now, Tymoshenko no longer sought a deal with the authorities, as she used to. Instead, she concentrated her efforts on measures to have the president step down. She said there were no point in taking part in the distribution of ministerial portfolios, since Kuchma did not need their (hers and Viktor Yushchenko's) standards (civilized, fair and open policy). Struggle for ministerial posts only "diverts the opposition from the only right goal - to hold early presidential elections as soon as possible."
In September 2022, opposition media published Yulia Tymoshenko's "Open Letter to the People of Ukraine about Seven Steps to Common Victory." The letter called on people to come out for a nationwide peaceful action of civic protest that was scheduled to start on September 16 concurrently in Kiev's European Square and in all Ukrainian regions. The key political demand of the action was early presidential elections. To achieve this goal, each Ukrainian citizen was supposed to make seven steps (or at least one of them), according to Tymoshenko.
Step one - to take part in the civic protest action and stand up to the victory.
Step two - to persuade as many of one's friends and relatives to join the action as possible.
Step three - to stay in contact with people who circulated Tymoshenko's letter.
Step four - to place the action's slogan, Stand up, Ukraine!, at one's work place, on one's balcony or a car, i.e. wherever possible.
Step five - to provide informational or financial backing to the action.
Step six - not to believe a single bad word the authorities may say about the civic protest action or about the opposition.
Step seven - to pray to God "asking for support to people's struggle for real independence, for decent life."
The action however died out, since it failed to draw sufficient number of participants. On the night from September 16 to 17, the tent camp of the protesters was dismantled. Oleksandr Moroz said it was a "colossal mistake of the authorities," "who cannot think because of the cask they are having on their heads."
But the confrontation between the president and the opposition continued. On September 25, Oleksandr Moroz, Yulia Tymoshenko, Petro Simonenko and Yu. Orobets had a meeting with President Kuchma. The meeting however was of no avail: the president categorically refused to step down and that was the end of the talks. The opposition announced another mass protest action – a Popular Tribune, this time.
Despite the fact that the Verkhovna Rada sessions were televised and Tymoshenko was literally the only one to take the floor all the time, the implacable opposition's possibilities were limited as far as the informational coverage was concerned, since it had little influence on popular television channels. Naturally, Tymoshenko never missed a slightest chance to be present in the information space but she had only a relatively limited segment of printed media at her disposal. As a compensation, opposition structures began to make an active use of Internet networks, where they were more efficient than the authorities. Apart from that, Tymoshenko had one more very important resource - direct personal communication with people and she used this resource skillfully.
An abstract from Tymoshenko's interview.
“Since there is an information blockade against us in Ukraine, we are working with people directly. I have traveled each and every region of the country and I look upon this country as an organic whole, no West, no East. Moreover, being a national patriot, I myself, a person born in Dnipropetrovsk, share the ideas of those living in Western Ukraine. You cannot but feel elated when you see a sea of 30,000-50,000 people gathering in a square, when you speak to them directly and they put trust in you, you give them hope and they go home emboldened and heartened.”
She was taking delight from personal psychological powers over people. She attached great significance to direct contacts with voters. Calling at the most remote villages, speaking wherever possible, she sought to build an illusion of her maximal closeness to voters, to demonstrate that there (allegedly) were no social distance or physical boundaries between herself and people.
After the parliamentary elections of 2002, the irreconcilable opposition’s efforts found extensive support in the West, so subsequent developments in Ukraine were unfolding under the so-called “orange” scenario.
Signs of increased activities of the U.S. administration in Ukraine showed up at the turn of the centuries, in 1999-2000. The key vector was directed at supporting the opposition, discrediting and weakening the authorities. The United States was behind Ukraine’s anti-governmental scandals and long-standing tensions around them. Along with the Gongadze case and the Cassette Scandal, alleged sales of weapons to Macedonia and alleged supplies of military hardware to Iraq were used to spoil the reputation of the Ukrainian authorities. In its annual human rights reports for 2003, the U.S. Department of State characterized the human rights situation in Ukraine as unsatisfactory.
In 2004, in the run-up to the presidential elections, the Verkhovna Rada formed a temporary investigation commission to look into allegations of foreign financial backing for election campaigns in Ukraine via non-government organizations sponsored by grants from foreign states. Well, a lengthy but very meaningful name. In its report, the commission said that direct official financial aid to Ukraine, which the United States and international organizations used as a tool to influence the political course of the state of interest, had been decreasing since 2000. It meant that the West was seeking to “punish” President Kuchma using financial tools. Thus, in the period from 2001 to 2003, the World Bank shrank its financial aid to Ukraine from $2.6 bln to $1.8 bln. Concurrently, indirect financial aid to non-government (in the case of Ukraine, opposition) forces, on the contrary, increased dramatically. By 2002, the United States had already re-oriented its financial support from the government and state structures to public organizations, political parties, election “transparency” and fairness programs, small and medium-sized business support and exchange programs. Foreign states focused their efforts on the work with those who shaped public conscience, i.e. with lawmakers, journalists, state servants, political scientists, heads of local self-governments. In 2004, according to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, such financial aid reached $65 mln.
In 2004, there were 399 officially registered international organizations, 421 charity organizations enjoying international status, 179 foreign-sponsored offices of foreign non-government public organizations in Ukraine.
These non-government organizations were active primarily in four areas.
First. They worked with opposition parties and blocs and their youth wings (Our Ukraine, the BYuT, the Socialist Party of Ukraine).
The formats of such work included conferences, seminars, training courses, opinion polls. Tasks were to create grass-roots organizations, to develop election strategies, to train observers and election commission members, to render information support to the opposition bloc and discredit Ukrainian officials in the eyes of international community.
Second. They worked with local self-government officials allegedly to encourage regional independence but, as a matter of fact, to loosen their subordination to the central authorities.
Methods of work with local officials who supported Yushchenko included techniques elaborated by specialists from the European Institute for Democracy (Poland).
Third. They supported the mass media controlled by the right-wing opposition.
Since 2003, the program for the development of the Ukrainian media ($300,000) had been implemented in the country via the U.S. embassy. Kiev’s cable networks were monopolized by the company Volya Cable owned at that time by an American citizen. These networks were used to broadcast programs of the MBM media holding that incorporated Channel Five an Express Inform (owned by Petro Poroshenko).
Fourth. They sought to create new and strengthen the existing Ukrainian public organizations and used non-violent struggle tactics via these organizations.
In this connection, I would like to note that Ukraine’s popular youth organization PORA (meaning in English It’s Time) looked like a clone of Yugoslavia’s Otpor (Rebuff) and Georgia’s Kmara (Enough). Aleksander Maric, the Otpor leader and a Freedom House consultant, who had shared his experiences with Kmara leaders in 2003, was detained in Kiev’s Borispol airport in December 2004. Being unable to enter Ukraine, he could not take part in Ukraine’s December 2004 developments personally but he and other Otpor consultants (for instance, Marko Blagojevic) offered their services as consultants via Freedom House. So, PORA had a perfect opportunity to use Otpor techniques to the full.
Among the most active U.S. organizations in Ukraine were the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDIIA or NDI), the Eurasia Foundation, the International Renaissance Foundation (Soros Foundation). These organizations were backed by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Some sources say that in 2004 the U.S. Embassy paid “monthly wages” to up to 3,000 Ukrainians. International foundations implemented projects in the area of political training, monitored the socio-political situation, offered technical and financial support to “independent” (i.e. opposition) mass media. The USAID coordinated the activity of missions of American non-government organizations active in the country within the framework of the Ukrainian Grantmakers Forum, which incorporated NDI, IRI, the Renaissance Foundation, the Solidarity Center, and Freedom House.
According to the above-mentioned commission, the annual budget of NDI programs alone was $2 mln in the period from 1998 to 2004.
During the 2002 election campaign, activists of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), controlled by the NDI and sponsored by U.S. National Endowment for Democracy and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the German and British embassies, had trained and organized the work of about 24,000 observers who worked at polling stations disguised as correspondents of CVU’s newspaper Tochka Zreniya (Point of View). Apart from that, the committee, using foreign financial sources, had organized the work of 225 observers who continued to monitor the political situation in the country after the elections.
According to the commission, NDI’s political technologies, that had been earlier tested in Georgia, included the organization of parallel vote counting (which gave the opposition a chance not to recognize the election results at all level), and manipulation of the public opinion to justify in the eyes of the world community mass disturbances they stir up to overthrow the authorities in a so-called non-violent manner.
The commission noted in its reports that the NDI and the CVU were working on a scenario how to exert international pressure on the results on the presidential vote in Ukraine and were plotting how to accuse the authorities of vote rigging in case their candidate failed.
Top officials of the NDI’s Ukrainian mission and the CVU struck an agreement on cooperation with the OSCE mission in Ukraine. The OSCE mission undertook to train 150,000 “election envoys” from the Our Ukraine bloc and 30,000 such envoys from Batkivshchyna and 30,000 – from the Socialist Party of Ukraine. These people were supposed to constitute the majority at all local election commissions and their reports on the voting procedures were supposed to be the key source for judging about the fairness of the elections.
Apart from that, there was an agreement to launch seminars to train observers at polling station. These seminars were to be funded by the NDI and special attention was supposed to be focused on signature identification mechanisms and on databases of supporters of the Our Ukraine bloc leader.
So, it looks quite logical that Tymoshenko was so concerned with the problem of attracting as many as possible Western observers. She demanded “one hundred percent international monitoring at each polling station, of each ballot box.”
Along with supporting the Socialist Party of Ukraine and Batkivshchyna, the NDI began to work with other big parties and association which they had ignored util that time.
David Dettman, head of political parties programs at the NDI office in Kiev, offered his services as a apolitical consultant to head of Our Ukraine’s election headquarters Roman Bessmertny. Apart from that, the NDI planned to help Our Ukraine, the BYuT and the Socialist Party of Ukraine to work out a more aggressive canvassing strategy and recommended Our Ukraine bloc members to watch closely the developments in Georgia, since they were seen as a possible scenario for the Ukrainian opposition.
The NDI scheduled a series of training courses for Our Ukraine bloc members and a joint training for members of Our Ukraine, the BYuT and the Socialist Part of Ukraine. For these ends, it was planned to open regional training centers in four Ukrainian cities.
Non-government organizations from Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland and the European Union carried out similar activities in Ukraine.
As is obvious even from a minor part of the Verkhovna Rada commission’s report, Batkivshchyna took part literally in each and every event or project offered by international organizations. It is likewise obvious that the Bloc members used considerable funds allocated by Western non-government organizations in 2003-2004.
Joint efforts of international organizations and local political and civil rights structures yielded a whole system of methods and techniques meant to overthrow the current regime. The most notable 2000-2004 campaigns in Ukraine were:
- Two interdependent campaigns carried out in the West to demonstrate “international concern” over violation of human rights and the freedom of the press in Ukraine, and to discredit the current authorities through instigating political scandals.
- Manipulation of public opinion to create a negative image of the country’s leaders and a positive image of the opposition.
- The use of human rights oratory by local and Western human rights advocates to facilitate increased pressure on the authorities.
- The use of democratic rhetoric to arrange for the pressure from the “international community” demanding to ensure “fair elections” and “democratic development.”
- Exerting pressure to impose an institute of international observers to control virtually all problems. Creating conditions for advancing such institute as an efficient instrument of support to the opposition.
To ensure successful implementation of these plans in Ukraine, a diversified political opposition network was created. This network had a tremendous opposition potential and the authorities failed to withstand it in the long run. Such aggressive network marketing efforts resulted in the establishment of an interconnected system of opposition (parliamentary and off-parliamentary) parties, numerous non-government organizations, non-government research centers and institutions, non-state mass media and Internet networks. The parliamentary opposition and intellectual groups serving its interests played a major consolidating role in these processes.
Batkivshchyna took part in all of these projects in this or that way but Western sponsors seemed to have considered it not as an independent and self-sufficient organization but rather as an Our Ukraine’s satellite, an auxiliary political force to enhance the Yushchenko bloc’s potential. Our Ukraine members were the key grant receivers on whom the basic stake was made in the 2002 parliamentary elections and they were to receive a larger part of subsidies to carry out the presidential campaign in 2004. Notably, considerable regular grants were issued to those leaders of non-government institutions who were members of Our Ukraine and its faction in the parliament. They were former Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk (Institute of Euro-Atlantic Cooperation), Yuri Klyuchkovskiy (Institute of Suffrage) and Mykola Tomenko (Polity Institute).
Thus, it was a point where the Ukrainian opposition (Our Ukraine, the BYuT and the Socialist Party of Ukraine) with their own technologies and know how met with the intellectual and financial potential of Western non-government organizations. It was a strong support for the anti-Kuchma movement, a symbol of international recognition of the Ukrainian opposition, and a serious school of international experience of anti-government activities.
By the summer of 2004, or some months ahead of the elections, Yulia Tymoshenko, despite her itching for lecturing at Yushchenko in public in a bid to put him on the right path, focused all her efforts on consolidating the “union of the tree” and on preparations for the forthcoming fierce struggle. On July 2, Our Ukraine and the BYuT set up the Force of the People coalition, which was to nominate a single candidate for the country’s president. Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko signed a coalition agreement and endorsed a joint action plan, the People’s Victory Manifesto. The agreement provided for the establishment of a Yushchenko-led coordination committee. Naturally, Yulia Tymoshenko took the position of his first deputy. The coalition then said it was open for new members, first of all, for the Socialist Party of Ukraine’s leader, Oleksandr Moroz.
In the autumn, the coalition was somewhat organized, so it established its own election headquarters on the basis of election headquarters of Our Ukraine and the BYuT.
These initiatives revealed Tymoshenko as enthusiastic and talented organizer. Tymoshenko’s influences were felt in the mere names, such as the Power of the People, Coalition Agreement, People’s Freedom Manifesto, Coordination Council, etc. Moreover, her influence was obviously felt in the manifesto’s description of the “rosy future,” when the opposition finally came to power.
“We need two years to bring the nation to the new frontiers of progress and to ensure that ordinary people have jobs, education, medical assistance, stable wages and pensions.
We need five years to make Ukraine a strong, prosperous, democratic state – a future leader of Central Europe.”
Similar words would later be used in various documents: programs, manifestos, interviews, features, etc., all authored by Yulia Tymoshenko.
During the campaigning period, the Our Ukraine and BYuT leaders demonstrated striking unanimity. Thus, Tymoshenko said there were not a single contradiction between the coalition leaders, and she had all the grounds for such optimism – the sides had settled all the problems of distributing posts after the victory in the elections: the post of prime minister was promised to Tymoshenko. So, it was only natural that she was so enthusiastic promising to do her best to ensue the coalition’s victory in the first round of the presidential vote.
Tymoshenko was prepared to put up with whatever humiliation it might take to win in this race, which was only possible under Our Ukraine’s wing. (Thus, the coalition’s central election headquarters was controlled by Yushchenko’s supporters, with only one out of the four deputies of chairman Oleksandr Zinchenko – Oleksandr Turchinov – being Tymoshenko’s nominee).
By the beginning of the presidential campaign, Tymoshenko already was a mature, academically trained opposition leader – suffice it to look at the recommendations she issued to the participants in the Internet forum in March 2004. She called on them to get prepared for the “moment of truth” and offered a 11-point action plan, which looked very much like a multi-level marketing technique based on the use of personal relationships as recruiting targets. Tymoshenko called on her supporters to set up grass-roots organizations wherever possible, to recruit as many people as possible, to enroll as observers or members of territorial election commissions, to fill vacated posts at regional party organizations and take active part in protest actions. “Set a goal for yourself: to persuade at least one person a day to support the opposition forces.” The Batkivshchyna leader also called on everyone, who could extend financial help to the party, to transfer money to its banking account.
In the summer of 2004, the “coalition of the three” began to get prepared for the elections. Specific attention was focused on the youth program, which provided for the mobilization and organization of students, for the organization of “combat” youth teams tasked to stand up against the authorities using non-violent methods. For these ends, the party organized open seminars, training courses, lectures, classes, student exchange programs and recruited lecturers from among specialists of Ukrainian state-run higher education institutions. One-time remuneration offered to them by non-government organizations was several time as big as their monthly wages. A lecturer was eligible for a grant in case he or she could guarantee the implementation of the entire program. In case a lecturer could expand the target group, attract more students and participants, such programs received extra financing. These programs were to be prolonged and broken down into several stages.
A latent task of such programs was to expose informal leaders who could be used in mass actions if need be. Such informal leaders were organized into network marketing pyramids. A student who could build a team of ten persons was awarded remuneration. Those who built and controlled chains of one thousand members could count for a bigger reward.
The youth association PORA was among such election campaign projects. In terms of political technologies, it was an efficient and “advanced” project tasked to consolidate and efficiently use youth protest movements. In Ukraine, this project was realized on the basis of methods and techniques tested in Serbia, Georgia and Albania. Organizers were absolutely straight saying that their inspirers, partners and advisers were Serbia’s Otpor, Georgia’s Kmara, Albania’s Myaft, and Belarus’ Zubr.
The PORA’s birthday was believed to be on April 7, 2004, when What Is Kuchmism actions were staged in 17 Ukrainian regions. Seminars for PORA activists started from April. They were organized by leaders of Georgia’s Kmara. Later, PORA activists underwent a week-long training course in Serbia’s Novi Sad. The training was organized by Otpor activists. The name of the Ukrainian youth organization – PORA – was invented at the Serbian-Ukrainian seminar.
PORA proclaimed itself as a public campaign organized for the election campaigning period (from March to November 2004). But it was stressed that its activity would not stop after the presidential elections, since this campaign was only the first stage of the development of Ukraine’s youth movement. PORA’s website (http://pora.or.ua) demonstrated that the organization had a detailed ideological program, which set its ultimate goal in changing the system of state power by means of a “peaceful” revolution. Apparently, PORA, which proclaimed itself as a non-partisan association standing for fair elections and protection of their results rather than backing any particular candidate, was a shill. Its members openly criticized Yanukovych and supported Yushchenko. PORA launched a number of fund-raising campaigns: “Donate a hryvnia to fight against the regime, back PORA today not to regret lost opportunities after the elections.” PORA received donations via the Coalition of Ukrainian Public Forces the Freedom of Choice.
A sound link between PORA and Batkivshchyna (its leader, to be more precise) was Yuri Lutsenko. Despite PORA’s bent towards Our Ukraine, relations between PORA and Batkivshchyna could be characterized as friendly and practical. Moreover, it looks quite possible that the leader of the less radical and militarized Batkivshchyna could have commissioned PORA activists to do some delicate jobs that could hardly fit the ideas of democracy and non-use of violence. She could hardly hope for Our Ukraine’s hand as a political or physical battering ram – Our Ukraine members, liberal, insubordinate and non-consolidated, did not really believe in the victory of their leader and were morally prepared to go on with their opposition drudgery until the next parliamentary elections.
The training of defence and resistance action teams started in early 2001. Such training courses were organized and supervised as a rule by career officers, many of whom had taken part in combat operations in hotbeds of tension, UNA-UNSO (Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-defense) instructors and foreign instructors from the Yugoslav Otpor. Such drills were staged in spring and in summer at special camps in the remote wooded areas. The official purpose of such “expeditions” was to study the history of the Ukrainian Cossacks. The comprehensive training course included exercises to drill self-defence skills, assault-repelling skills and methods to crush the enemy. Young men also underwent psychological training to foster hatred, for instance, to the leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), to “kikes” and “moskals” (a historical term for Russians used in Ukraine - translator). They were taught how to speak to the authorities and how to seize government buildings.
Later, it became known that the opposition had hundreds of armed men recruited from among athletes, businessmen and state servants.
Material and organizational aspects of protest actions during the election campaign had also been planned and prepared beforehand. Thus, several weeks ahead of the first round of voting, organizers bought train and bus tickets to Kiev for potential protesters. Three months before the elections, the organizers rented apartments in Kiev for the protesters and occupied municipal buildings controlled by the opposition (for instance, the House of Writers). They also prepared material backing for a long standout in Maidan (tents, travelling kitchens, medicines, revolutionary paraphernalia), and agreed with local businesses to arrange for other things that might be needed. Local businessmen placed their orders for revolutionary symbols abroad, including in Turkey.
Many things prove the fact that the Ukrainian opposition won its victory using the methods that had already been tested in Yugoslavia and Georgia. The Ukrainian 2000 weekly, which held an anti-Yushchenko position in the period of elections, cited an anonymous expert who claimed that foreign (American) secret services had been behind the Ukrainian revolution. Thus, according to the weekly, a psychological operation for Ukraine named Elections had been plotted at the U.S. Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg and its executors had been deployed at Portugal’s Porto, NATO’s Psychological Operations center. The 2000 claimed that three specialized battalions had been working on Ukraine’s “reforms” since the parliamentary elections of 2002. It was then, according to the weekly, that the key technologies used in 2004 had been elaborated.
Key elements used to orchestrate “fair elections” were:
- organization of parallel vote counting, for which ends the National Exit Poll 2004 consortium was set up by four non-government sociological companies, namely the Socis Center, the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, the Social Monitoring Center, and the Razumkov Center – Democratic Initiatives Foundation (financed by foreign organizations, including a number of European embassies in Kiev);
- organization of the Yushchenko team’s “field headquarters” in Maidan to arrange informal vote counting, which later became a base for a continuous rally;
- mobilization of students, including with the help of administrations of Ukrainian higher education establishments (when university rectors or deans financially motivated their student to take part in protest actions on the side of the opposition; in all, big financial resources were spent to pay students for their participation in the “orange revolution”);
- psychological manipulation of the public consciousness to impose the idea that Yushchenko’s victory was inevitable and to create an illusion that the Maidan rally was a nationwide action allegedly involving hundreds of thousands of people (actually, the number of protesters varied from 20,000 to 25,000, and about 1,600 of them stayed in Maidan permanently);
- informational coverage of the opposition’s actions held both on Maidan and via opposition media;
- organization of and support to the Miadan rally by means of psychological pressure (neuro-linguistic programming, regular meetings of revolutionary leaders with people, the use of rhythmic music to inspire the atmosphere of carnival, and availability of alcoholic drinks);
- paralyzing the activity of government institutions and structures linked with the former authorities (for instance, blocking the building of the cabinet of ministers), creating alternative centers of influence and administration;
- mobilization of action teams of the opposition in case of a force scenario to offer resistance to the police (concurrently, the opposition planned to accuse the authorities of getting prepared to use force to suppress peaceful popular protests; as a matter of fact, neither of the parties used force);
- adjusting the law to fit their needs (amendments to the law on elections), or absolute ignorance of laws (a third round of voting, which was outside the Ukrainian constitution);
- seizing the initiative in the organization and holding the voting and vote counting on December 26, 2004;
- using international observers, including from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as a tool to support the opposition and discredit the government-nominated candidate (according to some participants in the elections, OSCE observers and the “orange revolution” leaders seemed to be a single team and the former acted rather as a “shadow headquarters” of the latter).
Several days ahead of the voting day, it was evident that the Yushchenko team was fanning protest moods and exerting effort to mobilize young voters. Their key task was to make voters distrustful of the voting results in case they were not in favor of Yushchenko and to drive them to appeal to the world community. The opposition demonstrated its readiness for resolute actions, the more so as Yushchenko had coordinated information, political and financial backing from the West and the U.S. Thus, the U.S. Department of State allocated about $14 mln to sponsor auxiliary activity at Ukraine’s presidential polls. As many as $2 mln of this sum were meant to support public activities, explanatory work and mobilization.
So, the opposition was well-prepared for the elections and was determined to fight for its candidate. Many things signaled that the forthcoming elections were not going to be smooth and conflict-free. Experts were even speaking about a possible revolution they dubbed as “chestnut.”
However, many of President Kuchma’s opponents were not absolutely sure of Yushchenko’s victory. But Yulia Tymoshenko was not one of them. Her will-to-win spirit, plus invincible self-confidence, made up a resource that was hard to measure or estimate and which, as it would turn out later, played a significant, and even decisive, role.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“...If the unpredictable happens and Viktor Yushchenko loses the elections (although I don’t even want to think about such a possibility), I will have two options: either to continue struggle for the victory of common sense in Ukraine, or to just leave the country. So, I am telling you confidently: I am not going to leave Ukraine. I simply keep on believing that sooner or later common sense in our country will get the upper hand. And I want to make my contribution to this victory. Staying in Ukraine, I want to demonstrate that things are not hopeless even in the worst political failures.”
In his book Revolution.com. Basics of Protest Engineering, Ukrainian political observer Georgiy Pocheptsov noted that the winner of a revolution was the one who wanted to win rather than the one who potentially could win. A revolutionary project required passionate revolutionaries and revolutionary orators, he claimed. And such people took up their roles. Yulia Tymoshenko was the first among them.
A year after the Miadan protests, leader of the Our Ukraine faction in the Verkhovna Rada Mykola Martynenko said that Yulia Tymoshenko could not be credited with the victory of the “orange revolution,” since the Maidan protesters had been there not because of her. “There was one Maidan that struggled for its will, for democratic principles. And there was another Maidan that chanted “Yulya, Yulya!” during the inauguration of the president... The latter Maidan was a contracted one.” These words can be easily explained (Martynenko might have been annoyed with being suspected of involvement in a corruption-related scandal that, as he claimed, had been orchestrated by Tymoshenko to discredit Yushchenko’s supporters), but they cannot be shared. It is absolutely clear that Tymoshenko was absolutely unrivalled in Maidan from the first day of voting on October 31, 2004 till January 24, 2005, when the last tent was removed from Hreshchatik.
Special chapters are dedicated to the developments of those days and Tymoshenko’s role in them in books about this woman. The names of such chapters speak for themselves: “Iron angel of Maidan,” “Maidan’s heart,” “Maidan... Omnipresent Yulia...” Summing up the results of the elections, Ukrainian expert Oleksei Tolpygo attributed the victory of the “orange revolution” to the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko tandem. In his opinion, these two political figures were mutually complementary. Although lacking Yushchenko’s popularity, Tymoshenko was the only one in his team to have outstanding political capabilities. And unlike Yushchenko, she was ready to stake everything to win all. The authorities had no one to match against this tandem, the political observer noted. These words were said shortly after the “orange” developments but they seem to be true even now.
Tymoshenko’s talent as a revolutionary leader most vividly showed in the acute phase of the confrontation between the authorities and the opposition, i.e. in the period between the second and the so-called “third” round of voting (re-voting). As the Maidan rally was gaining in force, Tymoshenko was no longer, so to say, a headquarters chief thinking of counterattack tactics in the quite of her office – she was an army commander showing up where her presence was needed most of all to set an example of courage and heroism. It looked like she felt at home in a situation requiring prompt and daring decisions and risky steps.
Generally speaking, her manners and ways in those day connoted some links to the 1917 revolution. An A-student, Yulia Tymoshenko seemed to have learnt it only too well from the history textbooks and Soviet-era films what was to be done to win. As a matter of fact, her rhetoric (orders, in fact) was based on Vladimir Lenin’s basic principles of a successful uprising (Advice of an Onlooker, October 1917), namely to combine forces “as to occupy without fail and to hold at any cost: (a) the telephone exchange; (b) the telegraph office; (c) the railway stations; (d) and above all, the bridges.” Looking back at the November-December 2004 developments, I cannot but think that at that time Kiev, the Ukrainian House, the presidential administration and Maidan were for Yulia Tymoshenko the same as Petersburg, Smolny, the Winter Palace and the 2nd All-Russia Congress of Soviets used to be for Vladimir Lenin in October 1917. And the most advanced protest engineering technologies in no way overshadowed but rather, on the contrary, threw specific light on the revolutionary rhetoric of the century ago and inspired to struggle to change the world.
In this sense, Tymoshenko was opposite rather than complementary, as Tolpygo believed, to Yushchenko, with his messianic preaching that set the listeners to philosophical moods and gave the authorities hopes for compromise solutions. Such rhetoric was a far cry from the real language of “revolution.” Yushchenko tried to persuade and asked the crowd, while Tymoshenko mobilized and urged. Her vocabulary of that time was dominated by the language of ultimatums, instructions and orders. She demanded ultimate efforts and resolute actions from Maidan, she wanted people to unconditionally confide in the revolution leaders: “It is not time to work! It is time to defend Ukraine... If this gang is still there, we shall block roads, railways, the airport.”
In her Internet address, she called on people to come to Maidan with ten and more friends “so that millions gathered here in a span of several hours.”
She planned to set up a flying squad to block President Kuchma wherever he might appear to finally force him to take a decision in favor of the “rebels.”
Prompted and lead by Tymoshenko, the protesters blocked the buildings of the presidential administration and the government. She was about to give an order to storm the presidential residence any time. Should the authorities hesitate to backpedal, such an order was sure to be issued.
The decrees issued by the Maidan leaders (there were six such decrees) literally established a parallel government, the National Salvation Committee, the people’s body for the protection of the constitution, as they called it. Notably, Viktor Yushchenko was appointed chairman of that committee, Oleksandr Zinchenko was appointed chairman of the executive committee, while Tymoshenko was assigned a humble role of a rank-and-file member. Of course, it was a fake, to be more precise, it was tactical humbleness. It was too early to claim top positions.
The National Salvation Committee undertook some of state functions concerning the protection of public order. Its Decree number 4 established an organization under the name People’s Self-defense which was tasked to ensure law and order in the country. The “orange revolution” leaders saw it as their top-priority task to win over law enforcement structures. Thus, the decree had it that all officers of law enforcement agencies, should they come over to their side, would be exempt from charges of breaking the oath or disobeying the orders that run counter to the current laws.
These decrees, too, connoted the 1917 revolutionary Petrograd, with the first Soviet decrees On Peace and On Land. But these parallels reflected only superficial resemblance but not the essence. Ukraine’s political medley of 2004 revealed all the signs of a coup, elements of a peaceful (“velvet”) revolution and intra-elite inter-group collision (the third round of voting was nothing else but a collision of the elites under the external pressure), which had little in common with a proletarian revolution.
Detailed analysis of what we now call the “orange revolution” is outside the subject of this work. I just want to note that a series of forced changes of regimes in a number of post-Soviet states in the late 20th – early 21st centuries gave birth to such notion as a “color revolution.” Thus, according to the web encyclopaedia Wikipedia, the term “color revolution” refers to any changes of political regime or only the government through mass protest actions, which, as a matter of fact, plays down the mere notion of “revolution.” I would like to note that the term “orange revolution” cannot be considered as a precise term, it is rather a descriptive term with an unstable, vague connotation. Strictly speaking, this term should be used rather as a metaphor. However, this term is now widely used, even by political scientists. Moreover, it is now a key element of the conceptual term vocabulary. Many works have been dedicated to the “orange revolution,” some of them even claim to be scholarly.
Despite the fact that Yulia Tymoshenko, under the above decrees, held a relatively humble position in the parallel structures of the self-proclaimed government (dominated by Viktor Yushchenko), she actually was the central character, to be more precise, the leader of Maidan. All she did then served the only purpose – to seize power, whatever it might take. And it took not much because of the dismay, inaction, weakness and political cowardice of the authorities.
Tymoshenko, a heroic character, made it to the big time in November-December 2004. Although some of these heroic and romantic legends were embellished, they all were based on absolutely real facts. Thus, a story of Tymoshenko’s getting into the police-cordoned building of the presidential administration and her talks with riot police became legendary.
“Through a human corridor, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko came up to the front rows of the police cordon. Policemen were standing firm... And here came a miracle. All by herself, with no one beside her, even without the people’s president she fought so fiercely for, Yulia Tymoshenko made it through the cordon, as though by air – the “orange revolution” activists simply lifted her by hand and have her seated on police shields. This was how she got over the fence and then disappeared behind the backs of armed men to speak with the commanders of police squads.
Where was Yushchenko then? Neither the protesters nor journalists saw when he vanished... And what is more important, why did he disappear leaving Tymoshenko all alone in front of armed policemen?... Soon, she emerged from behind police shields, safe and sound. The authorities did not dare to arrest her...”
It was absolutely obvious that it was Tymoshenko who was tasked to maintain the fighting ardor of the protesters in the period between the second and the so-called “third” rounds of voting. She was literally omnipresent – she was seen in Maidan, on a bus top, in the crowd, chanting “No way to President Yanukovych, no room for pessimism, spread your wings and move on to the victory!” She ordered people not to go away until the ultimate victory. Svetlana Dorosh, head of the BBC’s Kiev office, who watched the December 2004 developments, was quoted as saying, “If Tymoshenko was in charge, everything would have been over long ago.”
However, despite all her influence, Tymoshenko failed to prevent a number of very important thinhs, namely the third round of voting (instead of a re-vote, which no one knew what might have ended with, she demanded “a right” re-count of votes by the Central Election Commission), the voting at the Verkhovna Rada, and “cabinet” talks with some opposition leaders.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“I am against the so-called third round. It might trigger irreparable consequences... Re-voting might ultimately become a carnage for election districts. It would be a real catastrophe, which would be fraught with a permanent crisis. That is why the winner in the presidential race must be announced after a new Central Election Commission counts all the votes. The new Central Election Commission must count votes honestly, not like hirelings of Serhiy Kivalov, ready to pass whatever Viktor Medvedchuk tells them to, are doing now.”
As concerns the constitutional reform, Tymoshenko stuck to a position that such a reform should be conducted after the change of power. The BYuT faction unanimously voted against amending the constitution at the Verkhovna Rada voting on December 8.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“We are ready to consider the reform concept and vote for it as soon as President Yushchenko officially takes office... In conditions when the president is losing his power whilst the parliamentary majority is gaining it, a constitutional reform would only revive political and financial clans, which would inevitably build a new majority and it would seize power.”
And, finally, Tymoshenko was worried over negotiations Viktor Yushchenko conducted with his political opponents. She called on her team-mates to give up “obsolete negotiations format and lend an ear to people... People believe that justice is President Yushchenko... Is it right to blame people for that or lay any claims? Instead, it would be right to kneel to them: but for our people, our politicians would have plunged, as usual, into a comfortable and customary negotiating process. And would have wrecked the entire cause.”
In a bid to avoid such turn of events, Tymoshenko insisted that the tent camp should be there in Maidan till the very inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko. On December 29, demonstrating her political courage, she ventured to fly to Viktor Yanukovych’s homeland, the city of Donetsk, and appeared live on the local television channel Ukraine. Tymoshenko was wearing an orange T-shirt of the Donetsk-based football club Shakhter and said that the choice of color was not accidental, since orange was the color that could conciliate the opposition and Ukraine’s Eastern regions, which had voted for Viktor Yanukovych. She spoke Russian and begged to be excused for too emotional speeches during the election campaign. She said she had been given the first portfolio from Viktor Yushchenko to pay a visit to Donetsk on a peacekeeping mission. She noted the hostility in question she was receiving from the Donetsk audience and admitted that her peacekeeping mission was not coming easy to her. She said she was confident that Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed popular support in Ukraine’s eastern regions, would find his niche in the Ukrainian political landscape, and, probably, would come at the head of the opposition. “I want to see politicians you respect come to power this or that way,” she said.
Obviously, this skillful diplomacy had little in common with the unflattering, sometimes spiteful, pronouncements Tymoshenko allowed herself to say in respect of her opponents. The most remarkable were the words she had pronounced in the heat of the election campaign at the Verkhovna Rada: “The Ukrainian Regions faction members are wearing white-and-blue scarves – well, they have come with ropes around their necks to hang themselves after Yushchenko wins the first round of voting.”
It was imprudent of Tymoshenko to speak to Yanukovych’s electorate after wishing him to hang himself. But it was the imprudence of the winner. Just before the inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko in January 2005, a journalist reminded her that Pavlo Lazarenko had once called her a great opposition leader just to hear an irrefragable answer from her: “He probably might be right from time to time.”
Stage three of Tymoshenko’s opposition activities – the “post-orange” period – was absolutely different from the previous one. Her victorious eight-month’s premiership, international interest she was stirring, personal ties with world leaders and, generally speaking, the status of an equal member of the high and the mighty in the long run did their part. Less than a year after, on September 8, 2005, when Yushchenko sent the cabinet to resignation, Tymoshenko was not a fagged out revolutionary fighter dressed and brushed in a slapdash manner but a presentable, well-groomed lady premier wearing a carefully coiffured braid and dressed in luxurious and provoking outfits.
This span of time could be called a period of glamorous bourgeois opposition, which was again the intra-system, or parliamentary, opposition like it used to be before the “orange revolution.” Key events that signaled the existence of the opposition took place within the Verkhovna Rada. It registered and put for voting legislative initiatives and lawmakers expressed their opinion of those initiatives by means of voting for or against – a regular routine, as it might have seemed at first sight.
But what was not a routine thing was Yulia Tymoshenko’s somewhat ambiguous position. On the one hand, the BYuT was part of a ruling coalition, while the Communist Party and the Party of Regions were in opposition. On the other hand, whereas prior to the 2004 elections it had been quite obvious whom Batkivshchyna and the BYuT, an anti-presidential political force, had been in opposition to, now the situation was different. After her humiliating resignation, Tymoshenko, nevertheless, could not hail down a storm of criticism upon Yushchenko. Bellicose anti-presidential rhetoric used against Leonid Kuchma was out of the question. The alliance with Yushchenko was the only serious resource of her political influence. That is why she could only afford mild and reproachful criticism against Yushchenko.
An abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“I am taking my resignation as a change of the format of relations with the president. We were leaders of different political forces... we worked together in the government, we had partner relations... At the last year’s elections, we allied into a common force for the time being but later the format changed again... We must try to find harmony within the new parliament.”
So, she had to focus on the president’s entourage, on his “beloved friends,” whom she accused of being behind her resignation. The first to come under her criticism was Petro Poroshenko, who had claimed to take the prime minister’s office but in the long run had to settle for the position of the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council. In the eyes of the former prime minister, Poroshenko became the “opponent of all democratic changes in the country.” Later, the list of such opponents was supplemented with the names of many officials appointed by Yushchenko.
These were the conditions, in which the half-ruling, half-opposition BYuT had to campaign for the March 26, 2006 parliamentary elections, where it scored 22.29 percent of the vote (129 seats) finishing second after the Party of Regions with its 32.14% (186 seats). A new alliance between the BYuT, Our Ukraine (13.95% of the vote, 81 seats) and the Socialist Party of Ukraine (5.69%, 33 seats) revived the ruling coalition.
Further developments could not be described as anything else but a protracted political crisis. There were plentiful evidence to prove it. At first, for quite a long span of time, the Verkhovna Rada could not begin its work because of lengthy negotiations on portfolio distribution in the “democratic coalition.” Then, the Party of Regions threatened to block the parliament’s work. Later on, in violation of agreements with his coalition partners and enlisting support from the Party of Regions, Oleksandr Moroz was elected parliament speaker. After that, Tymoshenko cancelled her agreements on the participation in the parliamentary majority and warned she would go into opposition if the Rada nominates Viktor Yanukovych as prime minister, a post she wanted to secure for herself. In August, the president and the leaders of the new ruling coalition factions signed the Universal Principles of National Unity. Tymoshenko categorically refused to put her signature under the document, saying it was an act of the “orange” camp’s political capitulation. When the document was signed, Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions formed a coalition of national unity. So, it took some five months to form the parliamentary majority and, finally, Yanukovych was appointed Prime Minister on August 4, 2006. But slightly more than a year later, on December 18, 2007, Yanukovych had to cede his post to Yulia Tymoshenko.
The BYuT leader raised the subject of early parliamentary elections already in the summer of 2006, shortly after the collapse of the “orange” coalition. And here she demonstrated all her qualities of an opposition politician. She could afford not to mince her words in respect of those who had lost their chance to form a coalition with the BYuT. Thus, she branded the Universal Principles as perverted and incompatible with life.
“The Universal Principles envisage a complete capitulation of the president and his team.”
“The president had ruined the hopes of millions of people who cast their votes for him.”
“Moroz’s election Rada speaker is illegitimate, as is the formation of the ‘anti-crisis coalition’.”
“We are losing statehood, we are losing Ukraine.”
After these reshuffles in the parliament, Tymoshenko, as a leader of the parliamentary minority, was almost completely cut off controls and actually lost any possibility to influence decision-making first in the government, and then in the parliament as well. The opposition leader did her darndest to criticize the Party of Regions and the Socialist Party factions but the parliamentary coalition mechanism of “national unity” was still in place grinding all her initiatives. Notably, Tymoshenko’s opponent in the parliament was the leader of the Party of Regions faction, Raisa Bogatyreva, who succeeded Viktor Yanukovych after he was appointed prime minister.
I have analyzed the Verkhovna Rada voting results in January-May 2007 (i.e. before the BYuT faction members vacated their seats) to see how many decision were taken (or turned down) when the BYuT members were voting contrary to the Party of Regions. Here are the analysis results.
There were 750 cases when a decision was taken despite the BYuT’s “no” vote, while there were only 71 such cases when the Party of Regions was against.
The BYuT found itself in minority with its “yes” vote as many as 190 times. As for the Party of Regions, there were more than twice as less of such cases – 73.
A decision was taken when the BYuT voted in favor in 468 cases, and in 1,128 case when the Party of Region voted for it.
And, finally, a decision was turned down when the BYuT voted against in 450 cases, and in 562 cases when the Party of Regions voted it down.
So, it is absolutely clear that the BYuT’s legislative activity in the first half of 2007 was practically paralyzed, while the Party of Regions’ initiatives went swimmingly. Naturally, such a situation was absolutely unacceptable for Yulia Tymoshenko, so she plunged into fight. But before that, she had twice supported Yanukovych: at the voting on a bill on the cabinet of ministers, which restricted the president’s competencies and expanded those of the government, and on a bill (in the first reading) vesting the opposition with broad powers.
Apart from that, they say that it was Tymoshenko who scared the president with rumors alleging that Yanukovych was boasting that the anti-crisis coalition was about to enroll 300 votes to be able to pass constitutional decisions, even on the abolition of the institute of presidency. As a result, on April 2, 2007, Yushchenko signed a decree dissolving the Verkhovna Rada, and the BYuT faction facilitated its implementation having voluntarily vacated their seats, thus making the Verkhovna Rada illegitimate. The next early parliamentary elections were held on September 30, 2007 to once again change the faction composition of the parliament and re-installed the BYuT leader as the country’s prime minister.
So, it can be said with confidence that Yulia Tymoshenko made her significant and very special contribution to the development of the institute of opposition in Ukraine. Of special note is the fact that this opposition was excessively personified, leader-dependent and more and more radical.
In general, the study of behavioral patterns of Tymoshenko’s opposition activities demonstrates that she had opted for and actively used the hegemonic pattern of behavior. And this is what make up the difference between Batkivshchyna – BYuT, on the one hand, and Our Ukraine – the Party of Regions, on the other hand. The latter developed a different pattern – a status-oriented one.
Whereas Yulia Tymoshenko sought to have all the political reins of power, the leaders of the Party of Regions were more inclined to maintain inter-group balance of forces both inside the party and outside it.
Whereas Yulia Tymoshenko had always been seeking complete victory, complete dominance and absolute obedience, Viktor Yanukovych and his fellow party members sought only to maintain their authority and never claimed to have a comprehensive political dominance.
Whereas Yulia Tymoshenko opted for tough confrontation, the Party of Regions tended to play by the rules, although the rules of a force game, and preferred to settle problems rather than seek complete defeat of an opponent or a partner.
These principal differences explain much in the behavior of the Party of Regions in the most critical moments, such as the 2004 presidential elections, the dissolution of the parliament in 2006 and the 2007 early parliamentary polls. Each time these polar patterns of behavior clashed, there was an impression that Yanukovych, and hence, his party, yielded to the BYuT leader, who seemed to spare no effort to achieve her goals. It looked like they preferred to give up on Tymoshenko to spare themselves too much effort to take the upper hand over her.
This, so to say, “family” feature of the Party of Regions revealed itself at the presidential elections in 2010. Whereas Tymoshenko, defeated but not willing to recognize her defeat, kept on fighting, despite common sense and circumstances, for her lost victory in the Lugansk, Donetsk and other eastern regions, Yanukovych seemed to be content with his narrow victory of 3.5% and preferred not to fight for the votes “stolen” from him in Ukraine’s western regions.
The fact that Yulia Tymoshenko emerged as a political figure only in opposition left its indelible mark on her subsequent behavior. The skills of the struggle for, first physical, and later political, survival she had acquired from the very first steps on the political scene, proved to be a dangerous and often efficient weapon. A talented, if not outstanding, opposition leader, Tymoshenko used an entire arsenal of defence and attack techniques. She never had any mercy on her opponents, hitting them straight-from-the-shoulder, she refrained from compromise, preferring to have everything on her own terms and chasing the foe till its complete capitulation. But life has proved that this uncompromising stand is not always constructive. In the long run, her “who is not with us is against us” attitudes drove her in a trap she had been preparing for her opponents at the presidential elections in 2010.
 Тимофеева Л.Н. Политическая оппозиция/ Политология: лексикон: под ред. А.И. Соловьева. М.: РОССПЭН, 2007. С. 398.
 Гузенкова Т.С. Политические партии и лидеры в Верховной Раде Украины (1998-2000). М.: РИСИ, 2001. С. 22-26.
 See for example: Мунтян М.А. Политический популизм (теоретический очерк). URL:http://muntjan.viperson.ru/wind.phd?ID=380155&soch=1.
 Еременко А. Корпоративный интеллект с лицом Юлии Тимошенко // Зеркало недели. 1997. No 5. 1-7 февраля.
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 Хроники современной Украины. Т.3. 1997-1998. Киев: Основные ценности, 2002. С.84.
 URL: http://www.rada.gov.ua/skl3/BUL32/180998_16.htm.
 URL: http://www.rada.gov.ua/zakon/skl3/BUL32/180998_16.htm.
 Хроники современной Украины. Т.4. 1999-2000. Киев: Основные ценности, 2002. С.194.
 Ibid. P.301, 335.
 Гузенкова Т.С. Политические партии и лидеры в Верховной Раде Украины (1998-2000). М.: РИСИ, 2001. С.180.
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 URL: http://www.temadnya.ru/spravka/15feb2001/241html.
 Кучма Л. После Майдана: записки президента. 2005-2006. Киев: Довира; М.: Время, 2007. С.167.
 Понамарчук Д. Просто Юля // Известия. 2001. 21 сентября.
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 Зеркало недели. 2002. No 9.
 Урядовий кур’эр. 2002. 28 серпня.
 День. 2002. No 161. 6 сентября. С.4.
 Независимая газета. 2002. 23 июля.
 Черная О. Что это было? Чья победа?..// Зеркало недели. 2002. No 36.
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 The full name of the document is the Interim report of the Verkhovna Rada’s temporary investigation commission on the establishment of facts of foreign interference in financing election campaigns in Ukraine via non-government organizations sponsored by grants from foreign countries (from the author’s archives).
 URL: http://news.gala.net/?cat=36&mn=7&yr=2004&dy=2&offset=1&id=156318.
 2000. 2004 17 декабря
 The sought to suggest the idea that Yushchenko was the messiah and the leader of the nation, that after the victory of the opposition life would improve cardinally.
 Почепцов Г. Революция.com. Основы протестной инженерии. М.: Европа, 2005. С.37
 Ibid. P.101.
 URL: http://korrespondent.net/Ukraine/politics/131705.
 Толпыго А. Что произошло в ноябре-декабре 2004 года? / Оранжевая революция. Версии. Хроника. Документы: сост. М. Погребинский. Киев: Оптима, 2005. С.169-170.
 URL: http://www.expert.org.ua/?st=2&id=24444.
 URL: http://www.ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Революция.
 Попов Д., Мильштейн И. Оранжевая принцесса. Загадка Юлии Тимошенко. М.: Изд-во Ольги Морозовой, 2006. 322-333.
 Ibid. P.324.
 Кокотюха А. Юля. – Харкiв: Фолiо, С.285.
 URL: http://www.rada.gov.ua/zakon/news/STENOGR2004/11/2/438238.
 Calculations are based on the data available in the section Latest Information on Results of Agenda Execution at Plenary Sessions. URL: http://www.rada/gov/ua/zakon.
 Политическая социология: учеб. для вузов / под ред. чл.-корр. РАН Ж.Т. Тощенко. М.: ЮНИТИ-ДАНА, 2002. С.412.