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added: 16-01-2005 19:18
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep: Ukraine's Next Prime Minister

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Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Chancellor of the Archeparchy,
Vicar General of Public Affairs and Government Relations and
Episcopal Vicar for Colombia and Venezuela
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
of North and South America Sobornopravna

By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

Yulia Tymoshenko, parliamentarian head of Batkivshchyna (Motherland),
deserves to be Ukraines next prime minister. Her leadership, deft political
skill, loyalty to Viktor Yushchenko and unquestioned commitment to the countrys
emerging national consciousness makes Yulia the logical choice. She is also
one of the best safeguards against a Moscow-backed plot should Yushchenkos
health falter. No one should think that the Kremlin has given up looking for
opportunities to orchestrate another political coup.

Ukraine must not only plan for the present, but even more importantly, it must
strategize for the long-term. Vladimir Putins apparent willingness to work
with President-elect Yushchenko means little. This may be nothing more than
a Kremlin wait-and-see ploy hoping for political vulnerability. Putin's
patience is not an indication that Moscow has accepted a sovereign Little
Russia. Yulia has been one of the most spirited Ukrainian patriots and has no
illusions about the political mentality of the northern neighbor.

Tymoshenko, educated as an economist-cyberneticist, has the tigress
intellect to manage any potential threat. As a business leader, she has been lauded
as one of Eastern Europes best crisis managers. In a January 2005 commentary
in the Moscow Times, Yulia made it very clear that there is a difference
between the Russian people and the bureaucrats, political spin doctors and
entrepreneurial oligarchs to the north who would suffocate the Ukrainian soul.
She wants to foster a relationship with the Russian people. No one can
dispute that Ukraine is linked with Russia, albeit a distinct and separate member
of the eastern Slavic family. Exploring this relationship with a cousin
also means that she is attempting to foster liberty to family members who are
slowly losing it. A democratic Russia benefits Ukraine. Currently, some
Kremlin politicians and elements within Christian Orthodoxy are embracing
anti-democratic tendencies that will ultimately hurt the Russian people.
No one should forget Yulias fiery eloquence that rallied tens of thousands
of demonstrators in Kyiv, which maintained populist pressure on the corrupt
Kuchma regime and the Moscow-backed presidential candidate. Without such
massive round-the-clock rallies for democracy there would be no President
Yushchenko. Tymoshenko has the moxie, grace and determination not to allow the
Orange Revolution from being compromised.

There will be enormous pressure on President Yushchenko to make deals, but
with Prime Minister Tymoshenko at his side Ukraines sovereignty is not likely
to be jeopardized. It must be underscored that President Yushchenkos
health has suffered. There still could be future consequences. Ukraine must be
prepared for all possibilities.

Perhaps a leaders possible frail health will give the Kremlin an upper hand
to influence Ukraine. It is imperative that Ukraine has a strong
political infrastructure - based on liberty - in place, no matter the individual in office.
Politicians come and go, but freedom should be lasting. There can be no
democracy if a nations future rests with one or even a handful of individuals.
Democracy requires that men and women be nurtured and work their way up the
ranks to meet the challenges of their generation and those that follow. An
independent free press will be vital in this regard.

Tymoshenko is impressive for many reasons. Her intuition, business prowess,
ability to command an audience and sincere love of the motherland are
extraordinary. Most important, however, she is a democrat who understands the most
basic needs of safeguarding freedom.

Korrespondent Magazine quoted her saying that its necessary to tart not
with economic or social reforms but with securing a free mass media.
Otherwise, no reform is going to get results. She is one of the few in Ukraine
who grasps this critical concept.

Democracy cannot exist without a press that is unencumbered by politics or
economic gain. The vitality, strength and success of every democracy and
totalitarian regime is measured by the independence of its media. A free press
will outlive elected officials, presidential administrations, and will safeguard
the future of a democratic Ukraine. Yulia Tymoshenko supports and understands
this basic component of liberty.

There is no guarantee that Tymoshenko will be named the next prime minister.
On Saturday, January 15, she expressed certainty that the incoming
president would advance her candidacy based on a prior agreement. So far
Yushchenko has not publicly expressed a preference for her. Clearly, there is
political jockeying going on. Should Yushchenko choose someone other than
Tymoshenko, then it is a decision that must be respected so that the nation may heal.

While Yushchenkos pick of anyone other than Tymoshenko would be a
disappointment, Yulia can take comfort knowing that she has all the skills, abilities
and the strength of character to become a great future president. Her
leadership is needed now and in the future. Hopefully, President-elect Yushchenko
will agree.

Bishop Paul Peter Jesep is chancellor of the archeparchy and vicar general
of public affairs and government relations for the Ukrainian Autocephalous
Orthodox Church of North and South America Sobornopravna (UAOC-S). He has
studied at Bangor Theological Seminary (, the third-oldest such school in
the United States. In the past, His Grace, also a lawyer and political
scientist by training, served on the staff of U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
He has also spent part of his career in communications and public policy.
Bishop Jesep may be reached at _VladykaPaulPeter@aol.com_
( . The views expressed here are strictly personal.

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