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UKRAINA: Även om premiärminister Julia Tymosjenko ser ut att ha förlorat presidentvalet i Ukraina framstår hon fortfarande som den mest karismatiska politikern i landet.

Bilden av Tymosjenko som den ständigt vitklädde kvinnan med blond hårkringla var enligt hennes tidigare image konsult Oleh Pokalchuk en medveten strategi för att stärka och förankra hennes ställning hos det ukrainska folket.

Innan förvandlingen var Tymosjenko en brunett utan någon starkare utstrålning och med dåliga kunskaper i det ukrainska språket. Idag har hon nästan fått status som ikon och har avbildats på omslaget till modetidningen Elle.

Redan 2007 skrev Kathryn Westcott på BBC News följande;

She has become instantly recognisable the world over for that hair: the artful arrangement of traditional braids – sometimes dubbed ”the Yulia” (…)

All of this has a serious political message. The style evoking an idealised Ukrainian peasant girl chimes with her uncompromising nationalist views.

Her former image consultant Oleh Pokalchuk – who says he came up with the idea in the early 2000s – explains that the idea was to project Ms Tymoshenko as a Ukrainian archetype.

”It was necessary to work out and implement an image that would block out the image formed by [tidigare presidenten Leonid] Kuchma propagandists, one of wealth, of envy, hatred,” (…)

”I created an image of a modest village teacher. A visual type, clothes and haircut, a retro image evoking memories of childhood and schooldays… simple clothes, simple haircut, a Ukrainian archetype,” he says (…)

”She didn’t speak Ukrainian so well then and it was necessary for parts of the country, where nationalism is a powerful force, that she should appear one of us,” says Mr Pokalchuk.

”It was the image of the poetess Lesya Ukrainka, who had a similar haircut and who is a positive image for all Ukrainians. I was looking at a monument of Lesya every day, from my office window, so I didn’t have to go far to find the image” (…)

”Her image-making is very interesting and delicately balanced,” says Andrew Wilson an expert on Ukraine at London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES).

”She comes across as feminine but forceful, glamorous but national – and instantly recognisable.

”The heart is a political message – hers is the politics of moral principle as opposed to grubby compromise. In a way, she is the heart – the conscience of the nation. It follows on from the way that she campaigned last year,” he says.

Some say her peasant look is somewhat misleading. Critics say she made a billion-dollar fortune in the privatisation of Ukraine’s oil and gas industry in the 1990s.

”There is certainly a contradiction,” says Mr Wilson. ”She is a kind of Eva Peron figure – on the side of the poor but in a fur coat.” (…)

”Image is very important in Ukraine,” says Mr Wilson. ”It’s a very TV-based society, and television was the primary medium of the campaign.”

Detractors have scathingly described her metamorphosis as pretentious: a near biblical transformation, her hair wrapped on top of her head like a halo, complemented by flowing white angelic dresses.

Idag säger samma image konsult att ”hennes image har spelat ut sin roll. Jag skulle råda henne att byta till en mer modern look. Men hon skulle inte lyssna.”

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