A cheering crowd, a returning martyr, an ethereal blond woman in a wheelchair, her head wrapped in iconic braids.
It’s a clip straight out of Central Casting. But some say the abrupt appearance of once-imprisoned Ukrainian political leader Yulia Tymoshenko in Kyiv’s Maidan square may not be the trailer to a happy ending.
Since Ukraine’s protests broke out three months ago, the opposition has been largely leaderless. But whether Tymoshenko is a comeback kid, or yesterday’s woman, is up for grabs as the country struggles to find its balance after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.
“People were horrified by her political persecution, but when she was jailed there was no massive uprising,” said Marta Dyczok, a Ukraine expert at Western University, who is in close touch with the Maidan protesters. “That’s the key thing to remember.”
Tymoshenko, 53, was serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of office when parliament changed the criminal code to free her last week. The charges sprang from her negotiations with Russia over a gas deal, and many felt they were politically driven by her rival Yanukovych. As his popularity plummeted, sympathy for Tymoshenko rose and reports of brutal treatment and neglect of her health problems in jail sparked an international outcry. (Source: Toronto Star)