She was nicknamed the “princess” of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. But Yulia Tymoshenko’s partnership with Viktor Yushchenko was not destined to have a fairytale ending.
Trouble flared soon after the pair took power in 2005 in the wake of their rousing street protests against electoral fraud. Within months, amid in-fighting, President Yushchenko sacked Prime Minister Tymoshenko’s government.
A long political crisis followed. President Yushchenko was forced to agree to his long-standing rival, the Moscow-leaning Viktor Yanukovich, taking the premiership, buoyed by electoral success.
But Tymoshenko was back in business before long. In 2007 she resumed her alliance with President Yushchenko and was reappointed prime minister. The new-found unity was to be short-lived however and last month the President’s office accused her of betraying national interests.
For while Tymoshenko and her bloc have been careful to maintain a balanced position on the Caucasus conflict, Yushchenko has strongly backed Georgia. The president’s office accused Tymoshenko of remaining silent to secure Moscow’s support during Ukraine’s next presidential elections.
The country’s recent independence day celebrations further highlighted differences. Tymoshenko, it is said, saw Yushchenko’s flexing of his country’s military muscles in a parade in Kiev as a “provocation.”
While today’s developments may put the so- called “princess” in a delicate position, she can take heart from recent opinion polls. They indicate that if a presidential election were to be held now, Tymoshenko would have enough support to win.