© SERGEI SUPINSKY
Yulia Tymoshenko has a record allegedly as shady as any politician's in Ukraine, and that's saying something. But, still, she brings her people hope.
Don't let her looks fool you. The woman of the moment in Ukraine, whose crown of braided golden hair is calculated to evoke mythical memories of rural strength, has always been a better icon than a politician.
When former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, 53, addressed
tens of thousands of people in Kiev's Independence Square on Saturday night, many in the crowd were moved to tears. Only hours before she'd been serving a seven-year prison sentence under guard in a hospital far from the capital. Now, afflicted with crippling back problems, she spoke from a wheelchair, telling the crowd she drew strength from their bravery, their martyrdom. "You are heroes!" she cried. Her most bitter political enemy, President Viktor Yanukovych had meanwhile fled the capital.
A new chapter seemed to be opening in the political life of the country last night, and indeed it was. But as Ukraine
moves toward new elections in the near future (most likely at the end of May), Tymoshenko's not-so-pretty past may yet prevent her from winning the presidency she's sought for so long.