External link to Ukrainian-language Yulia Tymoshenko web site
Ukrainian-language Yulia Tymoshenko web site:
"Given the current course of events, Russia will soon control Ukraine's energy sector, giving the Russians a blunt instrument with which to manipulate internal and external Ukrainian affairs." Yulia Tymoshenko

The original of the article below can be found on the Financial Times web site at

An English-language interview with Yulia Tymoshenko can be found on the Zerkalo Nedeli web site.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Kuchma is consciously building a totalitarian system in Ukraine
Financial Times; Mar 14, 2001

From Ms Yulia Tymoshenko.

Sir, From the letter you recently published from Leonid Kuchma, president of Ukraine (February 27), one may get the impression that he is a progressive leader whose bold reforms are being sabotaged by unnamed dark forces.

It is hard to consider Mr Kuchma a serious agent of reform, as he has blocked all of the reforms and anti-corruption efforts that the Ukrainian government has attempted in the energy sector. More specifically, the president blocked the "clean energy" programme that my office undertook while I served as deputy prime minister. This programme was well on its way to destroying shadow "schemes" in the coal industry - perhaps the most corrupt sector of the Ukrainian economy.

The president routinely ignored requests from my office to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in stealing large amounts of money from this mostly state-owned industry. Rather, the president has actively engaged in covering up the crimes of those responsible, as they are members of his political and economic inner circle.

Further, the president has ignored all the efforts of the government in privatising Ukraine's energy sector. He has openly opposed the sale of enterprises in the energy sector to western investors because they are of "strategic" interest to the state. At the same time, he is readying agreements to hand these enterprises over to Russia in exchange for political support for his regime. Given the current course of events, Russia will soon control Ukraine's energy sector, giving the Russians a blunt instrument with which to manipulate internal and external Ukrainian affairs.

In his letter, Mr Kuchma insisted on his devotion to democratic principles and free speech. In reality, Mr Kuchma has done everything within his power to destroy the freedom of the Ukrainian press. I am addressing this letter to you because I do not have any opportunity to meet the press of my own country. President Kuchma has amassed absolute control over the court system and all law enforcement agencies and I am being held in prison by Mr Kuchma's regime as a result of fabricated accusations that are not provable in any fair court.

Perhaps Mr Kuchma really does realise the significance of democracy and a free economy and perhaps he really does comprehend how it is possible, following those values, quickly to substitute working democracy for the totalitarian rules of political and economic life in our country. However, in protecting himself and his clan, in which both communists and oligarchs have united, he has conclusively demonstrated that he wants neither democracy nor reform in Ukraine. He is consciously building a totalitarian system.

I believe that Mr Kuchma's regime may go so far as to eliminate me physically, not just politically, but I have made my choice and will continue to fight him by democratic methods. President Kuchma says I have committed a crime. My only "crime" has been to fight the corruption, shadow economy and totalitarianism that have been created by this president of Ukraine.

Yulia Tymoshenko Prisoner of Conscience and Former Deputy Prime Minister, Ukraine

Copyright: The Financial Times Limited