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Yulia Tymoshenko, tenacious thorn in Ukrainian leader's side

Published on Feb 22, 2014 9:13 PM

KIEV (AFP) - Ukraine's jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Parliament voted to free immediately on Saturday, is one of the country's most divisive politicians and a persistent thorn in the side of beleaguered President Viktor Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko, jailed for seven years on abuse of power charges in 2011, is a hugely polarising figure in Ukraine and has been a prominent pro-European voice in a country torn between rival allegiances to Moscow and the West.

She is loved by her supporters as an unflinching defender of Ukrainian sovereignty and its European future who was ruthlessly punished by Yanukovych for daring to challenge his power.

But for her detractors, Tymoshenko, 52, is an unscrupulous political opportunist with no fixed ideas who became enormously rich in the corruption-stained 1990s and deserves what she got.

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