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April 15, 2005
It's The Respect, Stupid

Meet Yulia Tymoshenko -- sex symbol, fashion leader, outspoken ... and Ukraine's Prime Minister, who refuses to allow her country to suffer disrespect from anyone:

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says she cancelled her first official visit to Moscow because she wants Russia to respect her country. ... Officially, the trip was delayed as the prime minister was "too busy".

She is supposed to be tied up with urgent agricultural matters as it is spring sowing season in Ukraine.

But speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Ms Tymoshenko made it clear she was protesting against "an act of stupidity" by a bureaucrat, and one that she insists must be corrected. ...

The incident has reignited tensions between Moscow and Kiev - already strained since the controversial elections that sparked the Orange Revolution here. Russia campaigned openly then for the candidate of power, Viktor Yanukovych.

Now Ms Tymoshenko says it is time Russia stopped treating Ukraine as its inferior, and learned some respect.

Much has been made of this rare, energized Eastern European political dynamo. Before her elevation to PM, some warned that Yulia would cause too much dissension from her blunt talk and tough style. In the end, after having been one of the ignition sources for the revolution that swept him into the presidency, Viktor Yushchenko could not avoid making her PM even had he wanted. Tymoshenko would not be denied the respect she believes she deserved for rallying people to the Orange standard.

Now she works hard to ensure that respect comes to Ukraine as much as to her. She doesn't shy away from the more superficial aspects of her allure, but she doesn't rely on them to keep her popularity afloat, either. Yulia claims to be "proud" that her personal style has had such an effect on Western hairdos, but that she keeps focused on producing results in order to prove to Ukrainians that they did not make a mistake in selecting her. While Tymoshenko may lack diplomatic politesse, she displays courage and leadership commensurate with people who have fought their way to freedom.

Russia may want to rethink that indictment in the near future. It doesn't appear that Tymoshenko will disappear from Ukrainian politics any time soon.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive ... here's a picture of Tymoshenko.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 15, 2005 7:03 AM

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