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Yulia Tymoshenko

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko talks about engaging the West

The 2005 Orange Revolution made Tymoshenko an international media icon. With her fiery rhetoric and political savvy - not to mention her stunning looks and famously distinctive braids - she seemed destined to be the face of the post-Soviet world's new wave of democratic revolution.

Four years later, it's not so easy to be Yulia Tymoshenko. The adoring crowds in Independence Square are a distant memory. She feels under fire from all corners, most of all from her former Orange Revolution ally, President Viktor Yushchenko. She was late for our coffee conversation because she first needed to focus on this morning's attacks from the president, who accused her in parliament of running the economy into the ground.

The global recession is turning conventional wisdom upside-down as even the IMF now calls for large deficit-spending policies (for advanced economies, at least). One might think the conditions imposed on Ukraine, where unemployment is rising fast and salary delays are now widespread, are too strict and socially painful.

But Tymoshenko isn't complaining. "You are never popular when you ask a sick person to undergo surgery," she says. "But what has to be done, has to be done. Cooperating with the IMF requires a serious budget policy for any country. It's never easy. But it's a guarantee of stability."


By Federico Fubini

See Foreignpolicy

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