Former Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk delivered a withering critique of Yulia Tymoshenko, his former boss, to the U.S. ambassador earlier this year, according to a U.S. Embassy cable published on Dec. 1 by WikiLeaks.
Decrying her as a “destructive force” who “simply wanted to consolidate power in her own hands,” Pynzenyk said he believed that her tendency to favor “adventurous populism” meant that she would “continue to work against reform.”
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft’s report of the conversation is posted on the WikiLeaks website without Pynzenyk’s name.
He is described in the cable only as a “former Tymoshenko insider” and the name is redacted.
But an article in German magazine Der Spiegel
, which obtained original copies of the cables, identifies the insider as Pynzenyk, a respected economist who served from December 2007 to February 2009 as finance minister in Tymoshenko’s government. Pynzenyk could not be reached for comment.
Pynzenyk left the government after clashing with Tymoshenko over budget policy.
Tefft writes that Pynzenyk “appeared to deliver his message not in anger, but in sorrow for the country and frustration at his inability to convince Tymosehnko to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the economic crisis to reform.”
He added that Pynzenyk’s “indictment of Tymoshenko was particularly damning.”
Instead of using the crisis that hit Ukraine in 2008 as an opportunity for genuine reform, Pynzenyk said, she had “wasted the opportunity in favor of populism and a simple desire for all-embracing power.”
The meeting on Feb. 22 came after Tymoshenko’s defeat in an election to President Viktor Yanukovych, but before her dismissal as prime minister.
Pynzenyk raised concerns that she would “continue to work against reform”: “Her argument would be that she and her government were able to make all domestic and international payments during the crisis without implementing what would amount to painful reforms for the public.”
He added that in this way the International Monetary Fund, which stepped in with a $16 billion standby loan to prop up Ukraine’s finances, had “actually harmed Ukraine,” as it prevented the government and the public from suffering too badly from the crisis.
Pynzenyk describes Tymoshenko’s leadership style as authoritarian. She made policy decisions “without listening to considered advice’;” it was “difficult to understand Tymoshenko’s logic most of the time;” her decisions were “normally guided by ‘adventurous populism,’” which she saw as a tool to “consolidate power in her own hands.”
With all of this in mind, Pynzenyk said the best hope for Ukraine was pre-term parliamentary elections, which he suggested would benefit [Deputy Prime Minister] Sergiy Tigipko and [former Verkhovna Rada speaker] Arseniy Yatsenyuk.”
Tymoshenko’s spokesperson Marina Soroka said on Dec. 2 that she had not yet read the cable and therefore could not respond.
Read also 'Yushchenko’s failure forces America to change course' by Uwe Klussmann.
Kyiv Post staff writer Peter Byrne can be reached at email@example.com.