Political socialization is generally interpreted as a process by which political attitudes, values and behaviors are transmitted from one generation to another, thus ensuring the stability of society and its political system. It is through the performance of this function that individuals are inducted into the political culture and their attitudes towards the political system are formed. Political socialization is a long process, sometimes it is a life-long process. Among the most influential agents of socialization are: School, Various Social Institutions, Work Place, Mass Media, Political Institutions and Parties, Religion, etc. Some experts however recognize a person’s immediate environment, or family and friends, as a primary influence in the development of political orientations.
In the context of this monograph, of special interest are aspects of political socialization on the background of radical socio-economic and political changes in society. Some experts believe that in conditions of anomie (or a breakdown or absence of political norms and values) such political socialization agents as family, friends, political leaders and parties, and mass media lose their influences, yielding to specific economic and political environment that impacts the situation an individual is in. Notably, transitional societies characterized by discrepant political socialization processes often tend to give individuals a chance to realize their political potential in different ways. Some go into a state of apathy and lose any interest in political life. Others, on the contrary, plunge into political processes and reach considerable results.
The story of Yulia Tymoshenko’s recurring socialization and political rise gives grounds to recognize the analytical validity of such considerations. In fact, what she has ultimately managed to do calls to mind the words of acclaimed U.S. political scientist and communications theorist, Harold Lasswell, who described political socialization as the process of transition from the sense of inferiority to the feeling of godlike superiority.
In the early 1990s, Yulia Tymoshenko was a fully developed mature person. She already had a secondary school, the Dnepropetrovsk University and the work at a Dnepropetrovsk-based machine-building plant behind. Also behinds was her first “business project” – a chain of video outlets and the position of a business development director of the Terminal youth center that specialized in the organization of discotheques and video rental. In 1991, Tymoshenko established the Ukrainian Petrol Corporation, which by 1992 grew into the biggest fuels provider to the Dnepropetrovsk region’s agricultural sector. Tymoshenko worked as a director general of that company. From 1992, business interests of the Tymoshenko family expanded into the gas sector. Tymoshenko’s Ukrainian Petrol Corporation and Viktor Pinchuk’s pipe-manufacturing company Interpipe merged into the Sodruzhestvo Corporation that imported Russian and Turkmen natural gas to Ukraine and exported Ukrainian pipes to Russia.
The early 1990s, when Yulia Tymoshenko demonstrated such a meteoric career rise, was a very difficult, if not to say tragic, period for Ukraine. So, the success of a young businesswoman presented a harsh contrast to what was going on in the country.
In 1990-1994, Ukraine’s national income dropped by 58%. At the turn of 1992 and 1993, the economic collapse sent prices skyrocketing. Thus, in 1992, gas prices went up by 100 times, and oil prices – by 300 times. In January 1993, food staples showed a likewise growth on the “pre-reform” period: rice prices were up by 81 times, noodles prices were up by 110 times, butter prices – up by 160 times, sugar prices – up by 90 times, and boiled sausage prices shot up by 173 times. Economic processes virtually went out of control. According to official statistics in 1992-1994, basic financial and economic indicators were worsening each following month (quarter, year) on the previous one. Throughout 1992, the national currency depreciated by 21 times, and by 103 times – through the following year. Economic turmoil in Ukraine was the strongest amongst all other post-Soviet states. In 1994, the situation in that country was recognized as the worst (with an exception of Moldova and Tajikistan that were in a state of war). In April 1993, Leonid Kuchma, the then Prime Minister, admitted that the government was unable to size up the scale and dynamics of hyperinflation processes in the country.
Ukraine’s political system was in a grave crisis too. Both the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) and the government worked very hard but the measures they took were blatantly late and inefficient. Lawmakers often had no idea what to do. The Verkhovna Rada of the 12th convocation (1990-1994) changed four governments, adopted seven anti-crisis programs, but, as Ukrainian experts acknowledged, the country’s authorities failed to ensure efficient governance of society.
In 1993, President Leonid Kravchuk and Parliament grappled for more powers. Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma insisted that competencies be further re-distributed according to a formula: legislative powers – to the president, executive powers – to the prime minister, wording and adopting a new constitution – to the parliament. But each of the branches sought to sidestep any responsibility for failures of the economic and social policies.
Both the parliament and the government came under severe criticism from all around. A newly emerged generation of businessmen and financiers accused the authorities of the failure of reforms. The parliament of the 12th convocation passed 76 economic laws and the government issued more than 80 decrees on these matters. The country plunged into an epoch of decrees, edicts and resolutions, the bulk of which where reviewed or cancelled shortly after being passed. The absurdity of the situation when there was an unbridgeable abyss between legislative acts and real life of society can be illustrated by resolutions of the type “On the Enactment of the Law On Amendments to the Law...”
In June 1993, in the midst of the biggest coal miner strike, the Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution on a referendum on early parliamentary elections and no-confidence to the president. Shortly after, the lawmakers revoked their resolution about the referendum but appointed early elections: parliamentary – in March 1994, and presidential – in June 1994.
The presidential election was held in two rounds. Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma scored 52.1% of the vote in the runoffs. With a new president, the executive and legislative branches began a new round of relations, when the president sought to consolidate all the powers and competencies under his own thumb, and the Verkhovna Rada did its best not to let him do it. A conflicting model of relations between the president and the parliament formed in 1995-1996. The president used his own methods of exerting pressure on the parliament (he established the institution of the presidential envoy at the parliament, various conciliatory commission, practiced direct addresses to the parliament, and realized his right to appoint referendums), and the parliament used its own in rerun (turned down presidential legislative initiatives).
The parliamentary campaign of 1994 was not a smooth one. In the first round in March, only 49 lawmakers were elected – those who won an absolute majority of votes (at least 50% plus one). In the second round a month later, 289 more lawmakers were elected and by-elections were held in the summer and autumn of 1994. And still, 10% of seat remained vacant. Further by-elections were held in December 1996 (it was then that Yulia Tymoshenko won a parliamentary seat) and in April 1997. The worst situation was in Kiev, where elections were invalid in the majority of constituencies because of poor voter turnout.
For the first time in Ukraine’s modern history, the parliament that was elected in 1994 polls had more than one party. Although the leftist forces – communists, socialists, and agrarians – dominated the parliament, there were centrist and rightist factions and groups as well (the groups Center and Unity, the right-wing faction of the People’s Movement of Ukraine, the groups Reforms and Derzhavnist).
In June 1996, in the midst of open confrontation between the president and the parliament, when sophisticated political alliances were formed and various compromises were sought, Ukraine’s new constitution was adopted. It fixed the principle of the division of powers and proclaimed Ukraine a semi-presidential republic.
Yulia Tymoshenko, a beginner lawmaker at that time, gained her first legislative experience in an absolutely different environment than her colleagues who had made it to the parliament several years earlier. Thus, the year 1997 saw the Verkhovna Rada becoming a professional parliament. The lawmakers were stripped of the right to have other representative jobs or occupy state positions. So at first, Tymoshenko decided to go on as the president of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) on a, so to say, pro bono basis, and then she gave up business activities in favor of her parliamentary job. Observers however noted the Tymoshenko family still had the corporation in their hands.
It looked like all these political processes that unfolded in this period, all these intra- and inter-party perturbations and the smoldering “war” between the president and the parliament had no relation to Yulia Tymoshenko. She felt right at home only with business. And she was not alone feeling like that. While the president and the parliament were indulging in the tug-of-war and each time the task of forming the budget triggered a real trench warfare between the executive and legislative powers, the sphere of private business lived through a turbulent period of original primitive accumulation of capital and the formation of a new class of upper bourgeoisie. It was then that first handsome fortunes were made, that people, who were to become the policy-makers later, came to the fore. It was then that such business empires as those of Viktor Pinchuk, Rinat Akhmetov, Serhiy Tihipko, brothers Hryhoriy and Igor Surkis, Yulia Tymoshenko, and others came into being. In 1996, the turnover of Tymoshenko’s corporation (Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine, or UESU) reached $4bln, her share in Ukraine’s entire gas exports was 7%, and 14% - in trade with Russia. In 1997, UESU controlled a fourth of Ukraine’s economy.
Some experts describe the period of the 1990s in Ukraine as the primitive clannish system. Among the strongest clans were the Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Kharkov ones. They gave birth to regional economic and proto-party structures. The Dnepropetrovsk business and political group towered over the rest, thanks to the weight of Pavlo Lazarenko.
In her interviews, Tymoshenko prefers not to mention his name, so, it looks like Tymoshenko and Lazarenko scarcely knew each other and her family business in no way depended on the governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region. Her name, as she claims, “is being deliberately linked to Lazarenko with an only aim of posing her as a criminal.”
Here is an abstract from Tymoshenko’s interview.
“He was governor. At that time, we had a small business, far from a region-level one. At that time, I already wrote my first reports to Prime Minister Marchuk about how to build a business, how to settle accounts with Russia...
I had never met with Lazarenko until Kuchma appointed this man, who was a friend of his, prime minister. I met with him after that to settle various business affairs. A person running a national-level business cannot do without such business meeting...
There are no grounds to draw any parallels between myself and Lazarenko. We had parted in politics long before he got all his troubles. I am not a court to say whether the punishment he got was just or not. We are poles apart, and now I see it only too well. That is why my way is absolutely different from the one Pavlo Ivanovych was wending in politics”.
Anyway, there are solid grounds to think that Pavlo Lazarenko played a much more important role in Yulia Tymoshenko’s life than she is trying to show. Lots of people in Ukraine consider him as a “godfather” of Tymoshenko’s business. But few remember that it was Pavlo Lazarenko who had tempered Tymoshenko as a politician, who introduced her in the world of big politics and taught her (to a certain extent) nuts and bolts of political struggle. Later, looking back at the fruits of his labors, Lazarenko called Yulia Tymoshenko an outstanding opposition leader. And this is true. But another thing is true as well: although a talented, Tymoshenko was an ungrateful pupil.
A biographical background. Pavlo Ivanovych Lazarenko was born into a farmer’s family in 1953 in the village of Karpovka, Dnepropetrovsk region. In 1971-1973, he served in the army as a border guard at the border with Afghanistan. In 1978, he graduated from the Dnepropetrovsk Agricultural Institute. His career was quite successful: from 1978 to 1991 he worked his way up from an agronomist at a collective farm to first deputy head of the executive committee of the Dnepropetrovsk Regional Soviet of People’s Deputies. In 1992-1994, he was head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional administration.
Over the years of his career rise, Lazarenko won a wide popularity, authority and influence. He was elected to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada of the 12th (1990) and 13th (1994) convocations in the Dniptopetrovsk region (in 1994, he won 93% of the vote in the Solonyansky election district No 105; in the same year, he became head of the Dnepropetrovsk Regional Council of People’s Deputies).
At the presidential elections in 1994, Lazarenko supported Leonid Kuchma in his presidential bid, moreover, he did much to ensure Kuchma’s victory. In September 1995, Lazarenko was appointed first deputy prime minister, and ultimately prime minister of Ukraine – in late May 1996. Notably, in the Verkhovna Rada voting, he scored by 23 ayes more than the national constitution that was voted at about the same time. He was in prime minister’s office till early July 1997, or much longer than his predecessors. After resignation, he regained his parliamentary seat and took the lead of the opposition to the president. In 1998, his party Hromada got into the parliament.
On February 20, 1999, Pavlo Lazarenko was detained at New York’s airport on charges of violating the visa regime and on suspicion of trying to enter the United States illegally. He asked the US authorities for political asylum but instead was put on trial for extortion, money laundry and fraud. According to investigators, Lazarenko transferred some $114 mln to the United States. According to official count by the United Nations, Lazarenko looted approximately $200 mln, or 0.4% of Ukraine’s GDP. Prosecutors demanded Lazarenko’s custody for a term of 18 years and a fine of $66 mln. In 2003, he was released on bail in the amount of $86 mln to be placed under home arrest. On August 25, 2006, in San Francisco, Lazarenko was sentenced to nine years in prison and a fine of $10 mln. The Ukrainian authorities repeatedly requested his extradition but their requests were turned down each time on a pretext of the absence of an extradition agreement between Ukraine and the United States.
His fantastic fortune was made in quite a short span of time, but his political career was even shorter. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of Lazarenko played a decisive role in the process of the formation of Ukraine’s political and economic landscape of the 1990s. And many of his followers and former team mates are still in top-ranking government offices.
Ukraine’s first President Leonid Kravchuk spoke about Pavlo Lazarenko as a really outstanding person notable for, so to say, extraordinary productivity, enthusiasm, tenacity, quick wit, managerial qualities and enormous moxie. When Lazarenko was governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region, a vast and complex region, he was nearly the only one regional leader to never complain or ask additional funding from the central authorities.
In the eyes of Kravchuk, Lazarenko is depicted as an utterly new human type.
“He could make a devil work... He might have been a prime minister capable of conducting efficient economic reforms. But only in case he could be controlled by the president. But he fell victim to a hideous sickness that was gnawing at him from inside. It was his lust for money and absolute power...”
According to Kravchuk, it stroke his eye while visiting the Dnepropetrovsk region that Lazarenko’s subordinates were dancing attendance on the governor, regardless of their age or position.
In his work “Leonid Kuchma. A portrait on the Background of His Time,” Ukrainian political scientist Kost Bonkarenko writes that there were various rumors about Lazarenko. Some said that when he was presidential envoy in the Dnepropetrovsk region, he was seeking to bend all regional elites to his will. Thus, he was said to be imposing his rules in the region with a firm hand. He managed to exert control over practically all local crime groups. Businessmen were compelled to pay him from 20% to 50% of their profits. But at the same time, thanks to Lazarenko, public transport in Dnepropetrovsk was free in 1992-1993. In the eyes of petty people, he was a harsh but fair leader who would never give up his people but would inevitably make them answerable. He managed to realize practically unrealizable schemes. Thus, he pushed through the cabinet a resolution on the formation of two new districts in the region and managed to get lucrative budgetary financing for this idea. A Dnepropetrovsk businessman who had to have contacts with the governor described Lazarenko as a real rock, a manager of rare skills who are countable on fingers across the entire globe. He was a man of a death grip, ruse and self-control capable of working hard and taking and implementing his decisions.
Kost Bondarenko claims Lazarenko was the first politician to seek all-round informal control over all spheres of social and political life. The Lazarenko Empire sought to gain control over both the economy, politics and the mass media. He was Ukraine’s first oligarch to get at the helm of power. According to political scientists, he was behind the growing influence of the Dnepropetrovsk business and political group and its expansion to central power structures. The mass advent of his fellow countrymen to top offices in Kiev made people speak about “overdominance” of the Dnepropetrovsk team in 1996-1997.
Experts however note that the system Lazarenko engineered managed to survive his personal fall. By force of circumstances, his place was taken by a dozen of other oligarchs of a smaller scale who made use of the methods and political technologies once tested by Lazarenko.
By the time Yulia Tymoshenko found herself in the parliament, Lazarenko had enormous powers in his hands. Along with being prime minister and a parliament member, he concurrently was speaker of the Dnepropetrovsk regional legislature and also headed the regional administration. He practically controlled the Unity faction in the parliament (25 seats) and the then influential newspaper Kievskiye Vedomosti.
However, wide-spread speculations about Lazarenko’s being behind large-scale financial and economic machinations dented his positions in 1996. In early 1997, President Leonid Kuchma announced his plans to adopt in the nearest future a high-level anti-corruption program. And key attention was focused on Ukraine’s energy market, which was closely linked with the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine and its chief lobbyist, Pavlo Lazarenko, whose economic talents were put on trial, literally and figuratively speaking. Later, Leonid Kuchma called Lazarenko “my biggest mistake.”
Meanwhile, in the early 1990s, Yulia Tymoshenko demonstrated rather politically indifferent attitudes. No surprise: the situation in the country was more propitious for those making their fortunes rather than for those making political capital. But it in no way means that the Tymoshenko family held aloof from politics at all, although political activities were rather an auxiliary tool to attain far-reaching business goals. Some well-informed people say that it was not young Yuila but her father-in-law Gennady Tymoshenko, a hackish bureaucrat with extensive ties not only in Ukraine, but also in Moscow, who built first bridges with the powerful governor.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s outburst of political activities in 1996 has often been attributed to her efforts to stand up to hardships facing the UESU and the team of the former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. In late 1996, Yulia Tymoshenko won a parliamentary seat and hence a parliamentary immunity. It looks like she simply had a vague idea how to protect herself, her family and her business from impendent troubles. Anyway, her somewhat confused and, let us have it straight, rhetorically clumsy adjuration speech sounded both pleading and offensive, and apparently referred to the situation around the UESU.
“Many of you know nothing about me and my activities, and about what my corporation has been doing. You have no idea about the work that has been done and will be done in the constituencies where people have put trust in me and the work I am doing...
I am saying that being now a people’s deputy, I believe, by now I have done nothing that could be taken as a betrayal of my motherland, my people and those who believe me. And to judge, one must be absolutely sure he or she cannot be judged him- or herself.”
In the summer of 1997, Lazarenko was dismissed and very soon the UESU was stripped of the right to supply gas to Ukrainian enterprises. The corporation was accused of tax evasion to the amount of 1.5 bln hryvnias. Moreover, it was found to have a $300-mln debt for Russian gas. This is what The Zerkalo Nedeli weekly wrote in August 1997:
“The resignation of Pavlo Lazarenko, Hryhoriy Vorsinov, and Yuri Bochkarev, frenzied efforts to dig out compromising materials of Hryhoriy Omelchenko and Anatoly Yermak, a criminal case against Pavlo Lazarenko’s first deputy as the Dnepropetrovsk governor, Dubinin – all these constitute a yet incomplete list of the blows already delivered against the empire. And this is only a beginning, since, according to our information, a document has been prepared for signing to review the terms of the UESU’s presence on the country’s gas market and the corporation’s rights to Ukrainian companies it has already bought or is in the process of buying.”
Yulia Tymoshenko’s political training at the “Lazarenko School” was, to a larger extent, her own choice. In 1996-1997, powerful Dnepropetrovsk business groups began the process of political division: some staked on the loyalty to the then President Leonid Kuchma (V. Punchuk, S. Tihipko), others opted for Lazarenko. The UESU was among the latter. The choice seemed quite justified: in a bid to protect their interests, young, rich, smart, successful Ukrainian tycoons preferred not to side with the half-bureaucratic authorities having late-Soviet vestiges but rather to oppose themselves to them. Having gone to uncompromising opposition to the ruling regime and concentrated all possible levers of pressure, Lazarenko and Co obviously wanted to have Kuchma step down very soon.
Several years later, in 2006, Tymoshenko, again in the opposition, said the following about her opponent of that period, Viktor Yanukovych: “Yanukovych had only to grow his teeth a little bit stronger to be able to bite through Yushchenko’s thin and flexible spine.” Looking back to the now distant year 1997, it looks obvious that the Hromada leaders hoped to “bite trough the spine” of the then President Leonid Kuchma in a tick. But evidently, they overestimated their forces and underestimated the potential of their opponent, a former professional bureaucrat. It took them several years of fierce opposition confrontation to win a victory over him. Notably, it was not Lazarenko’s Hromada but his follower Yulia Tymoshenko and her party bloc who managed to succeed in it.
The demoted prime minister changed his office for a set in the parliamentary he had kept “just in case” and began to form an anti-presidential opposition. So, his indomitable, enterprising and resourceful country-woman came in very handy. Pavlo Lazarenko’s parliamentary activity of that time was really striking: his coming to the Verkhovna Rada prompted many processes yet in embryo at that time. Thus, the non-leftist anti-presidential opposition came into existence in the parliament.
In 1997, it was Pavlo Lazarenko and his supporters who gave birth to what came to full flower in the subsequent Verkhovna Radas, where leftist forces were pushed off from power, while the parliament that once used to be dominated by communist and Soviet influences was tending to bourgeoisify. A paradoxical situation was developing in the parliament: the “new Ukrainians” (the newly rich business class), who had enormous wealth and used all their financial resources to build a political empire of their own in conditions of wild capitalism, employed leftist rhetoric thus taking the bread out of the mouth of communists and socialists.
But the way it was done proved that Pavlo Lazarenko’s political talent was equiponderant to his evil financial genius. In conditions of his scandalous resignation and a looming threat of criminal persecution, it was not enough for Lazarenko to have a tame parliamentary faction and a couple of contracted media. He needed a party, which soon came to existence. It was Hromada.
As a matter of fact, the all-Ukrainian association Hromada rose up on the Ukrainian political horizon much earlier – in late 1993. It was formed by some former members of the center-right Ukraine’s Democratic Choice Party, representatives from the New Ukraine and business circles close to it, who quitted the Ukrainian Communist Party’s democratic platform. Oleksandr Turchynov of Dnepropetrovsk was then elected its leader. Hromada’s founders saw its goals in overcoming the crisis, creating an efficient national economy, forming civilized social relations, ensuring harmonious spiritual life of the Ukrainian people, and encouraging the country’s prosperity. Hromada’s ideology was noted for a special emphasis on religious matters. Hromada (and first of all, its leader Oleksandr Turchynov) favored a bigger role of the church in Ukraine’s social life and maintained close contacts with Ukrainian church structures. Thanks to Hromada’s efforts, a Spiritual Council was established to unite representatives from various denominations.
The party declared three fundamental principles underlying its activity: a legal economy, responsible politics, and Christian ethics. Its slogan was “No Advertising!” and the moto was “You shall not make for yourself an idol.” Could Oleksandr Turchynov then know how soon and how far he was going to deviate from his original Hromada’s principles and motos upon joining Batkivshchyna and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc! And nonetheless, he finally did make an idol for himself – Yulia Tymoshenko, and did supplement his arsenal of every-day practices with presentations and advertising.
The program goals of the former, pre-Lazarenko, Hromada give grounds to say that it represented the interests of, so to say, Christian businessmen running small and medium businesses who wanted all-round support to business activities, reduced tax burden, state support to foreign economic activity and tax incentives. Hromada stood for comprehensive support to religions, which was seen as an instrument to promote spiritual and moral revival of the nation.
A biographical background (as of 1996). Oleksandr Turchynov was born in 1964 in Dnepropetrovsk. He graduated from the Dnepropetrovsk Metallurgical Institute and was awarded a degree of a Candidate of Sciences (roughly corresponds to Ph.D.) in economics. He worked as rolling-mill operator, foreman at the Krivorozhstal steel-making plant, then was a secretary of a district Young Communists League committee. In 1989-1992, he took an active part in the formation of the Communist Party’s Democratic Platform and the New Ukraine association. In 1992-1993, he worked at the Dnepropetrovsk region administration. In 1993, he was elected Hromada’s leader.
In 1993-1994, Turchynov was economic advisor to the Ukrainian prime minister. In 1994, he became director of the Institute of Economic Reforms and president of the Center of Financial Technologies. An active member of the Baptist church community.
It looks quite probable that Lazarenko chose Turchynov and his Hromada, last but not least, because of considerations of common origins. It was of no inconvenience for the ex-prime minister that the party’s program ideas and principles were poles apart from his own. A ready-to-use party registered with the ministry of justice was a handy empty form he could breathe a new meaning in. In 1997, the new Hromada held three (!) congresses to elect a new leader (Pavlo Lazarenko, of course), adopt a political statement On the Fundamentals of the Integrated Program of Ukraine’s Revival and Development, form an opposition (shadow) cabinet, adopt a statement Against Anti-constitutional Policy of Suppressing the Democratic Opposition, and hold a founding congress of Youth Hromada.
And Yulia Tymoshenko was in no smaller part to these political transformations initiated by Lazarenko. On the contrary, experts noted her active participation in the reorganization of Hromada and the formation of its youth wing. She was said to be the key player who managed to establish pro-Lazarenko control over a number of Kiev-based printed media, including the Vseukrainski Vedomosti and partially the Zerkalo Nedeli.
The new Hromada’s political program featured absolute ideological eclecticism: it combined elements of the leftist and right-of-center rhetoric and was filled with paternalist-type populism. Ideological purity and coherence seemed to be of no concern to Lazarenko. What mattered most were applied methods of anti-presidential, anti-Kuchma, to be more precise, struggle, so the new leaders bothered little about coupling together program goals, principles and methods of different political orientation. More to it, Lazarenko presented this fact as his political know-how. He claimed that Hromada was the first and the only political force in Ukraine to unite in its program what seemed absolutely incompatible, i.e. “the ideology of Europe’s social democrats... social orientation of the economy and Ukraine’s national idea.” By the way, Yulia Tymoshenko has inherited this ideological unscrupulousness and political omnivory. She has failed to get rid of that, though it looks like she has never tried.
The election platform ahead of the 1998 parliamentary polls described a whole range of frightening consequences of the ruling regime, such as a threat of a national catastrophe, economic collapse, growing dependence on foreign capital, heightened social tensions, moral degradation, and loosing faith in future, etc. The authors claimed that democracy was ceding to the authoritarian rule so ruinous for Ukraine’s prospective development.
Hromada declared its transition to the opposition to the then authorities and announced its readiness to take responsibility for the country’s future upon itself. It formed a shadow government and made public its Integrated Program of Ukraine’s Revival and Development. The program listed 29 emergency measures, including the formation of civil society to control state bureaucracy, creating all necessary conditions to ensure spiritual and material interests of people, conducting a pension reform, guaranteeing increased privileged mortgage loans, offering comprehensive state support to the agrarian sector, creating a system for the legalization of shadow capital, etc. Note should be made that Hromada stood for Ukraine’s nonaligned status.
Notably, Tymoshenko’s hand can be seen in all these political enterprises and initiatives. In terms of both the form and content, Hromada of the 1997-1998 period was very much alike Tymoshenko’s later parties, Batkivshchyna and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc. The similarity of these different political associations could be attribute to Yulia Tymoshenko who breathed life into them and maintained them in the “good running order.” So, it looks like Pavlo Lazarenko was in charge of overall direction, oversight and strategic planning preferring to stand aside from details and everyday routine, the domain of his junior fellow party members.
By late 1997, Hromada was much more active in its parliamentary campaigning than other parties. Sly and shifty businessmen evolved into politicians, no less sly and shifty. It is worth mentioning that the shadow cabinet, whose members included popular politicians, was led by Yulia Tymoshenko. Hromada activists were touring regions, organizing publications in central and local media, speaking at news conferences. Its propaganda campaign targeted to demonstrate Hromada as a force capable of and ready to head an opposition bloc. Grass-roots organizations were set up all across the country. By late 1997, Lazarenko called Hromada Ukraine’s second big party after the communists (140,000 members). Along with the Vseukrainski Vedomosti and the Kievski Vedomosti, it won information support of the parliamentary newspaper the Voice of Ukraine, whose editor-in-chief was a Hromada member. From January 1998, retirement benefits were increased by 20 hryvnias in one separate region (or course, the Dnepropetrovsk region). A chairman of the regional council, Lazarenko drafted a bill extending this initiative across the entire country.
Hromada unfolded a noisy campaign throughout the country. It was then that the populism so characteristic of Tymoshenko’s future ways first showed up. Canvassers promised everything to everyone and immediately: repayment of debts, restoring of deposits, growth of wages, retirement benefits and allowances, solutions to housing problems, prompt wealth increase, etc. Lazarenko and Tymoshenko were present in the press (interviews, features, speeches) in abundance.
Hromada’s active, if not to say aggressive, campaign pushed off the Zerkalo Nedeli weekly, whose journalists published in 1997 a series of ironic articles entitled “Hromada can enroll members everywhere, even deep under the ground,” “Who can now play he role of Christ?,” “The orphaned country to have a mama.”
Moreover, seeking to increase its membership Hromada’s leaders demonstrated absolute political omnivory – they never shunned to establish contacts with such a radically nationalist party as the State Independence of Ukraine (Derzhavna Samostiynist Ukraini, or DSU), whose program was based on the Ukrainian nationalist idea. The party proclaimed that the only path to a national state was a national dictatorship. Its goal was to build a Ukrainian national state on the ethnic Ukrainian territory, where the power is vested in the Ukrainian nation and led by ethnic Ukrainians. DSU, labeled by the Dnepropetrovsk court as “not alien to fascist methods and techniques,” claimed that Hromada was “DSU of today,” a fact that added some piquancy to the situation.
The election campaign was rather successful for Hromada. It scored 4.74% of the vote and thus won 27 parliamentary seats. Further on, many nonpartisan lawmakers elected in majority constituencies joined the faction, so, by the beginning of 1999 the Hromada faction numbered 45 lawmakers. Four faction members were elected chairpersons of Verkhovna Rada committees. Yulia Tymoshenko became the chair of the budgetary committee, one of the most important and prestigious ones. It did not take long for the faction to learn the Verkhovna Rada rules, so it soon acted as a collective body with numerous functions and goals.
From the very start of the work of the third Verkhovna Rada, the Hromada faction plunged into severe criticism of the president. “Those who voted to keep the government, in fact voted for the lawlessness, chaos and mayhem that are ruling the country,” Yulia Tymoshenko said to the applause of lawmakers. Another Hromada faction member, S. Pravdenko, said openly that there was no worse a government than the then one.
In October 1998, Hromada announced registration of an action group to collect signatures in favor of a nationwide referendum on no-confidence to President Kuchma. A. Elyashkevych, one of the most active faction members and an acclaimed public speaker, then said, “Kuchma is a natural calamity. I would like the president to sign a retirement notice in August, when he reaches the retirement age, like any other retiree would do.” Yulia Tymoshenko echoed Elyashkevych’ rhetoric, saying that the president “has gone much further than we expected. He was behind the decision to grant voting rights to patients of mental hospitals. More to it, economic advisers are recruited from among such people.”
In was in the third Rada that Yulia Tymoshenko first came out with her fervent opposition (anti-presidential and anti-governmental) speeches that will late evolve into her trade mark.
“We are living through a most important, if not to say, crucial moment since our election. Today none of us can say that nothing depends on a people’s deputy. Today much, if not everything, depends on us... The parliament can change Ukraine’s future by changing the government. Over the past years, despair, dejection and total fear have been looming over each and every Ukrainian citizen who wants to do whatever he or she can in the industrial sector, in business or in commerce. Red tape maletolte and extortion have reached a peak. Bureaucracy uproots any initiative. The class of businessmen has been practically exterminated in the country. There is not a single lawmaker here who can say anything positive about the work of the government.
... The Verkhonva Rada does have specialists who can form a new government team. It also has anti-crisis programs. The new government must tell society: ‘We swear to God, Ukraine and our lives that we shall never lie to our people, that we shall all be transparent, that we shall never steal or embezzle budgetary funds, that we shall never allow red tape dictatorship or police arbitrariness, that there shall be only one dominant interest – that of the people who have entrusted their lives to us.’ This is what the new government must say. And may God have the people believe this government for the last time.”
The anti-government and anti-president rhetoric of Hromada lawmakers sometimes ran so high that their colleagues asked them to vacate committee chairs, saying that key committees cannot be headed by opposition activists.
However, a growing gap between Lazarenko and Tymoshenko underlay the faction’s latent development line. Thus, many noticed that Tymoshenko was ranked only sixth in the party’s election list, although her contribution to the party’s reorganization and its election campaign was questioned by no one. The following names topped the party’s list:
- Lazarenko P.I., people’s deputy of the Dnepropetrovsk Regional Council and the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada;
- Tolochko P.P., member and vice president of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Hromada member;
- Dvorkis D.V., chairman of the Vinnitsy City Council of People’s Deputies;
- Gnatyuk D.M., chief director of the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Hromada member;
- Plyutinsky V.A., CEO of the agricultural company Zarya, Rovno region, Hromada member.
Next was Yulia Tymoshenko, while Hromada’s former leader and Tymoshenko’s staunch supporter Oleksandr Turchynov was only twelfth.
As far back as 1997, in her article entitled “Similar charges produce a repulsive force,” a well-informed and far-seeing journalists, the Zerkalo Nedeli’s editor-in-chief, Yu. Mostovaya, predicted possible rivalry between the two leaders. She was quite accurate and neat in her characteristics of the political activities of these two politicians.
“Pavlo Lazarenko and Yulia Tymoshenko occupied a niche of oppositionist populism. Ask anyone of the Hromada members what time is it now, and you will hear him or her saying that his or her wrist-watch is out of order and the the entire blame for that rests with the president. The logic of their campaign is rough and clumsy, but efficient all the same. Unpretendingly touring the country, the Hromada leaders take notice of people’s problems, and the diagnosis they make is always absolutely clear: “The current authorities are unable to mend the situation.” The authorities have afforded Hromada of unaccustomed luxury to exclusively criticize themselves. It repossesses, it makes one have doubts, it makes one hope, or maybe believe... The information machine launched by Pavlo Lazarenko is running faultlessly. They need no star journalists. Their Pseudonym Star Factory is turning out lots of propaganda materials, which look like Christmas trees adorned with all types of labels.
Hromada keeps on saying that methods of struggle used against it are undemocratic and biased. But, regrettably, the authorities give grounds to be reproached of that. Each next such scandal adds up to Pavlo Lazarenko’s image, making a victim of him rather than the chief corruptionist. So, the government machine is working for him, and this is how Lazarenko makes it work.”
Some time later, these words will be applicable not to Pavlo Lazarenko, on trial in the United States at that time, but to Yulia Tymoshenko who by then had taken the reins of the opposition struggle.
Soon after the overhauled Hromada appeared on the political horizon, it was labeled as a quasi-party set up by Lazarenko and Co to serve their own interests. Many believed that Hromada’s presence in the parliament was conceived as a tool to augment Lazarenko’s control over the energy sector via the legislature. No wonder that from the very first steps of the updated Hromada, it was seen as a mere knob of Lazarenko’s financial and economic empire. According to M. Pegrebinsky, a Ukrainian political scientist, Hromada depended entirely on Lazarenko, since it was “built on personal loyalty to the leader, on financial liabilities and the involvement in business and other schemes.”
Some experts then said that it was not typical of Lazarenko, an oligarch bureaucrat in the near past, to build plain and easy-to-read schemes. So, Lazarenko, they claimed, sought to win safety guarantees and to consolidate his positions through inserting as many of his people as possible to other factions to protect his interests from inside.
Lazarenko’s multi-move game can be illustrated on the vivid example of the role he played in the election of the parliament speaker. Thus, as Leonid Kravchuk recalls, Pavlo Lazarenko was a key player in the political epic “Speaker Iliad” that was on at the Verkhovna Rada for several months. For some time, Lazarenko was playing the role of a go-between in the struggle of the leftists and rightists for a speaker’s chair. But soon both rival parties realized that it was not wise to trust this man and to let him monopolize the right of decision-making and acting. No one could rely on Lazarenko’s support, since what he did and what he really meant were quite different things. According to Leonid Kravchuk, Lazarenko never stopped to hope he would be finally elected speaker and considered this post as a jumping-off pad to begin his presidential crusade at the 1999 polls. The dragged-out war for the speaker’s post (whether open or secret, within the agenda or beyond it) ended when a leftist representative, Oleksandr Tkachenko, was finally elected speaker. Some of those who took part in those developments believe that Pavlo Lazarenko outwitted himself when he had nominated other Hromada candidatures for the speaker’s position along with himself.
The inside-party contradictions between Lazarenko and the younger generation went so far that in January 1999 Yulia Tymoshenko and Oleksandr Turhynov quitted as deputies of the Hromada leader. Tymoshenko said then that she had done this because all party posts were a mere appearance.
“’First deputy,’ ‘second deputy’ are just bombastic words in the present-day Hromada. As a matter of fact, the party is ruled by only one man. To be more precise, not the party, but its grass-roots structures. Because the Hromada of today can hardly been called a party, at least as we wanted it to be when we organized it.”
The immediate reason for their voluntary resignation was Lazarenko’s initiative to dissolve Hromada’s shadow cabinet, where Tymoshenko was a premier, and Turchynov – economics minister. Analysts however said that the real reason was by far more profound: Tymoshenko and Turchynov just wanted to dissociate themselves from Lazarenko – they felt that too close relations with him could be fraught with serious conflicts with the executive authorities. Notably, Hromada’s political council, apparently, under the pressure from its leader, accused the splitters of being the cause of the torrent of attacks of the authorities’ repressive machine. So the two became separatists in the eyes of their fellow party members.
Still being a party and the faction member, Tymoshenko publicly spoke about her differences with Pavlo Lazarenko. It seems that Tymoshenko must have been very much insulted by the position she was assigned and which she thought was inferior to her real role and contribution to the common cause.
“Pavlo Ivanovych has a vision of how the party should be arranged, about his own place in the party. I have my own vision of the party and my own place in politics. These visions of ours are incompatible.”
To my mind, the history of Yulia Tymoshenko’s relations with Pavlo Lazarenko features the tactics and patterns that will be later used in her relations with Viktor Yushchenko. But if in the former case everything happed quite promptly and without any efforts from Tymoshenko, in the former case the process of political and personal parting was very long and dramatically painful for both.
What was similar in these situations? At a certain moment, both Lazarenko and Yushchenko developed certain claims to Tymoshenko as their political partner. Both tried to constrain her growing influence and pull up her energetic striving for power. But some circumstance differed greatly. Lazarenko was obviously a strong and dangerous rival. If his career had not ended so quickly, he could have found a way to get rid of his disobedient aide. So, Tymoshenko was very lucky – she never had a real chance to feel the wrath of the mafia-type politician and she was saved from taking real effort to repulse his attacks. The then power machine did the thing for her. When abroad and in the capacity of a person on trial and then a convict, Lazarenko was of no threat to Tymoshenko. The only thing she had to do was to dissociate herself from her senior comrade-in-arms, and she did it.
Tymoshenko’s relations with Viktor Yushchenko developed under a different scenario – their struggle for power and rivalry were long and wearisome. Despite the fact that he turned to be a much more weaker politician than Lazarenko, it was much more difficult for Tymoshenko to override his resistance, because he was backed by powerful forces both inside and outside the country. It took her several years to saw at the legs of the presidential chair Yushchenko plunged in, and, to a larger extent, thanks to his own shaking loose his chair.
When Tymoshenko was trying to publicly deny accusations of foreswearing the oligarch in disgrace and of her attempts to quit the party taking some of the Hromada regional organizations, she pronounced a number of phrases that some time later would be repeated in various modifications in respect of Yushchenko.
This is what Yulia Tymoshenko said about her relations with Lazarenko in early 1999.
“I never broke off with Pavlo Lazarenko because of his bad reputation that was built up, I should say, by the then authorities. I believe you were able to see that over all these years, despite the pressure from the authorities, criminal cases, discrediting materials about the party leader, I have never done anything that could be interpreted as my attempting to break off relations with Pavlo Ivanovych.
I will never be a splitter. If I had ever sought this I would now have been acting differently. I would have initiated parallel grass-roots organizations, I would have organized parallel congresses... And I am not doing this and not going to.”
The following words were pronounced sever years later and referred to Yushchenko.
“I would like to say I have never sough to fall out with the president. I am against his entourage, but I am not against Yushchenko. To be more precise, not against his team as such but against those people who have discredited both Yushchenko and the new government team.”
In 1999, Yulia Tymoshenko had to put up with the decision of Hromada’s political council to nominate Pavlo Lazarenko as a candidate for president. In 2004, she had to give up her presidential aspirations too. Her political experience and intuition proved time was not ripe for that.
Tymoshenko’s first steps in big-time politics exposed some of her personality traits: her talent for concealing her real feelings and intentions, for talking to blunt the vigilance of her opponents, for getting profoundly prepared to act and acting promptly as soon as an opportunity presents itself. By the way, observant experts noticed her political inconsistencies back then, when her character was only being forged and real political battles were yet ahead.
This is how Yulia Mostovaya characterized relations between Lazarenko and Tymoshenko back in 1999.
“Many people tend to deem that relations between Lazarenko and Tymoshenko began to worsen when the former was elected the Hromada leader...Yulia Tymosheko is an independent player and sooner or later she will inevitably part from Pavlo Lazarenko. There are good grounds to consider her a promising politician for her having the four vital components that make a good politician: money, wits, slyness, and allure. Obviously, the list of her virtues could be extended much further but no one would ever dare to supplement it with such traits as consistency, political fidelity, reliability, and objectivity.”
The journalist did not spare the self-esteem and vanity of the young politician:
“People who know Pavlo Lazarenko would not argue with Yulia Tymoshenko that the ex-prime minister was prone to dictatorial methods of work with his team, in this case – with Hromada. But Tymoshenko, when she headed UESU, seemed to care little about the methods the then Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko was employing to clear the way for UESU on the Ukrainian gas market, forcing directors of plants to pay this very company in the first hand and on disadvantageous terms... Strangely, but Lazarenko’s voluntarism became apparent to some of his supporters not when he was “building” the country but when his possibilities shrank to a minor party leadership...”
Pavlo Lazarenko’s stripping of parliamentary immunity and a subsequent arrest warrant on charges of large-scale embezzlement while being the prime minister delivered an insurmountable blow on Hromada. His unexpected fly to Greece (some said that it was Tymoshenko who talked him to flee the country and even put her own plane at his disposal) and then to the United States, his plea for political asylum, televised footage on the national TV of the search of Lazarenko’s apartment and the seizure of money and property worth more than $500,000, televised reports from his luxurious summer cottage – all these told negatively on his fellow party members in the parliament.
At first, Hromada spared no effort to convince people that the anti-Lazarenko campaign was only conceived to get rid of a serious political rival at the forthcoming elections. Another line of defence was to prove that Pavlo Lazarenko was not the only, and by far not the biggest, corruptionist and embezzler in the country. In a bid to cleanse from direct accusations of having a leader who is involved in large-scale financial fraud, Hromada members sought to discredit other top-ranking Ukraine’s officials. Thus, A.Elyashkevich tried (although to no avail) to collect signatures at the Verkhovna Rada under an appeal urging to strip lawmakers off their immunity. Moreover, he called to do the same in respect of the president as well.
Despite desperate resistance from Hromada members, the Verkhovna Rada stripped Lazarenko off parliamentary immunity by the majority vote in February 1999.
So, all Hromada faction’s attempts to save face and to withstand its mishaps though directing public attention to others finally failed. The faction failed to consolidate around its leader who fell into disgrace and in the spring of 1999 the faction split into two politically independent entities – Hromada, with 18 Lazarenko’s supporters, and Batkivshchyna, with 23 members. Yulia Tymoshenko assumed the lead in Batkivshchyna. In June 1999, Pavlo Lazarenko disavowed his presidential plans publicly, saying he was doing this because of enormous pressure exerted on his supporters by the authorities. So, Hromada collapsed under the burden of problems of relations with the authorities, as the media put it back then.
There was no point for Yulia Tymoshenko to stay in the party, all the more, to try to save it. Having quitted Hromada and having formed her own faction, and finally a party, Yulia Tymoshenko turned a new page in her political career. But she learnt a number of very important lessons from the Lazarenko school.
One of the key lessons she learnt could be put in just three words – “don’t be greedy.” Having spent quite a time beside Lazarenko, Tymoshenko could not but see that uncontrolled drive to have all the financial and material resources to oneself was utterly ruinous. Taking the lesson from her chief’s pathologically insatiable greed and its pernicious impacts on personal and intra-party relations, Tymoshenko cultivated an ability to share her resources with real and potential partners. And to be lavish, when the situation requires it(we shall speak about it later).
Another key lesson was to always be active, even aggressively active. Since then, it has been Yulia Tymoshenko’s and her party’s incontestable rule to be always in the focus of public attention, to have all the public interest.
Another key to success the new Hromada learnt was to win as much media space as possible, to control as many mass media as possible, to always seek and find pretexts to be present in the media. This tactic helped them to make a dynamic and competitive political entity out of the half-forgotten small party.
From the very beginning of her political career, Yulia Tymoshenko has had no government or administrative resource to rely on. On the contrary, she has always had to fight against it. That is why she and her fellow party members were very attentive to their voters, seeking to expand their social support base. It was then that Lazarenko’s supporters won the reputation of radical populists. Later on, populism became Tymoshenko’s chief tool in her drive for power.
In contrast to Lazarenko’s tough styles, Tymoshenko could be called a democratic leader. But after spending much time in the opposition, or in the state of permanent mobilization, she must have realized that authoritarian methods were more appropriate for her. So, she have been using such methods ever since, skillfully adding some touches of democratic rhetoric.
And finally, Hromada replenished its arsenal of usable principles of political struggle with such slogans as “don’t make excuses,” “don’t give up,” “don’t give grounds to defence.” On the contrary, “press hard,” “attack,” “criticize,” “accuse” were among its favorite. These principles have been behind Yulia Tymoshenko’s activity up till now.
So, in many respects, Lazarenko and Tymoshenko showed themselves as typologically close politicians and personalities. Both used similar methods of opposition struggle, similar rhetoric and ways of self-expression. Both had such traits as adventurism, boldness and disposition towards all-or-nothing approach. Over the short period of cooperation with Lazarenko, Yulia Tymoshenko was able to get precious organizational experience in politics. Her previous experience of building a business structure now was supplemented with the new skills of creating and promoting a political party. Very soon, she had a chance to use these skills when she breathed life into a new political association, Batkivshchyna.
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 Кравчук Л. Маэмо те, що маэмо: Спогади i роздуми. Киiв: Столiття, 2002. С.319.
 Ibid. P. 320.
 Бондаренко К. Леонид Кучна. Портрет на фоне эпохи. Харьков: Фолио, 2007. С.183-185.
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 Пиховшек В. Жертвенный ферзь // Зеркало недели. 1997. 2-8 августа.
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 Томенко М.В., Олiйник В.В. Партiйна елiта Украiни – 2000. Киiв: Логос, 2000. С.25.
 Яблонський В. Idib.
 Хроники современной Украины…Ibid. P.165.
 Хто с хто в украiнськiй полiтицi. Киiв: К.Ш.С., 1996. С.381.
 Ibid. P.165.
 Друга сесiя Верховноi Ради Украiна // Бюллетень No 27. Киiв, 1998. С. 28.
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 Мостовая Ю. Одноименные заряды отталкиваются // Зеркало недели. 13-19 декабря 1997. No 50.
 Украiна i свiт сьогоднi. 1999. 29 сiчня – 4 лютого.
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 Кравчук Л. Маэмо те, що маэмо: Спогади i роздуми. Киiв: Столiття, 2002. С.322.
 Ibid. P.328.
 Завгородняя М. Юлия Тимошенко от борьбы за президентство отказывается. URL: http://www.zn.ua/1000/1550/20187.
 Хроники современной Украины. Т. 4: 1999-2000. Киев: Основные ценности. 2002. С.18.
 Завгородняя М. Ibid.
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 Ищенко Н. Партийная подножка демократии. URL: http://www.zn.ua/1000/21434.