It would appear that sexism is still alive and well in Central Europe. According to The Guardian UK, Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych declared that his female opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, should “go to the kitchen.”
Prior to her political career, Yulia Tymoshenko was a controversial but successful businesswoman in the gas industry. By some estimates, she was considered one of the richest people in Ukraine. She was the first female elected as prime minister of Ukraine and served intermittently in 2005, 2007 and 2010. She co-led the Orange Revolution and is the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” political party. The party has 19 seats in parliament and has Tymoshenko as its parliamentary faction leader. In 2005 she was placed on the Forbes magazine’s list of the most powerful women, placing at number 3.
She entered politics in 1996 when she was elected into the Ukrainian parliament. She was re-elected in 1998 and started becoming a strong and influential voice in parliament. From 1999-2001 she was the Deputy Prime Minister for fuel and energy. In 2001 she was arrested and charged with forging customs documents and smuggling gas in 1997. Her supporters rallied together and the charges were later found to be groundless. Tymoshenko fought off charges for years to come from the Russian government but she always assumed her place among the political leaders as a passionate, revolutionist leader.
After her 2010 election, a number of criminal cases were brought against her. The following year she was convicted of embezzlement and abuse of power. Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison and was ordered to pay $188 million to the state. The prosecution and conviction were viewed by many countries as being politically based. The European Union, the United States and organization like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International repeatedly called for her release. She was eventually released in 2014 after the Ukrainian Revolution also known as the Euromaiden Revolution. The revolution led to the restructuring of Ukrainian criminal code that decriminalized the actions which she was imprisoned for. The Ukrainian Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights closed the case and found that no crime was committed.