Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Dec. 27, 2004 / 15 Teves, 5765

John H. Fund

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

From America With Love: Ukraine's new first lady knows what freedom really means | In the most peaceful revolution since South Africa ended its apartheid regime by electing Nelson Mandela president in 1994, Ukraine has just elected opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko president of the former Soviet satellite republic. The victory comes for the pro-Western leader after a dirty campaign that saw him poisoned and only after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets to protest voter-fraud. "We peacefully, beautifully, elegantly and without any drops of blood changed Ukraine," Mr. Yushchenko told cheering supporters.

What many Westerners do not realize, however, is when Mr. Yushchenko takes the seat of power, at his side will be a tough minded, savvy American-raised businesswoman. His wife, Kateryna Chumachenko Yushchenko, is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants who grew up steeped in the traditions of her ancestral homeland.

Mrs. Yushchenko was raised in suburban Chicago as the daughter of an electrician and seamstress. During World War II, her parents were forced to immigrate to Germany and work as slave labor. They came to the U.S. in 1956 at the invitation of a Ukrainian Orthodox church. She grew up speaking Ukrainian at home, learning the national dances and attending a Ukrainian school and Orthodox church. "My parents felt they had to keep alive the culture and traditions they thought were being suppressed by the Soviet Union," she told me.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s she worked in the human rights office of the U.S. State Department. She also worked for the first President Bush in the Treasury Department. But her dream was always to help Ukraine become independent. So after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 she moved to Kiev. Her business degree from the University of Chicago helped her land a job with KPMG, the U.S. international auditing company, and she prospered training the country's economists in Western practices. She met Viktor Yushchenko when he was part of a delegation of central bankers she brought to Chicago. "He understood free markets, had a firm faith in God and knew what the right path for the country should be," she told me. The two married in 1998, and they now have three children.

Donate to JWR

It is the strong bond he has with his wife that has helped Mr. Yushchenko through the tough campaign and it will likely be his relationship with her that will help him have a successful presidency. Perhaps the darkest moment for Mr. Yushchenko came this fall when he was poisoned. At first it seemed to be a case of the flu. His wife recalls him coming home one night during the presidential campaign and saying he felt sick. She noticed a strange metallic taste in his mouth when she kissed him. It turned out to be dioxin, a chemical compound found in Agent Orange and a well known poison.

Mr. Yushchenko has largely recovered, although the poison has left his face disfigured and the government has continued a three-year campaign to discredit him and his wife. After he was poisoned, the state prosecutor opened an investigation into the incident and then tried smearing Mr. Yushchenko by claiming he had a disfiguring case of herpes.

Tape recordings made by a disgruntled bodyguard for President Leonid Kuchma show that the president personally ordered a disinformation campaign against the Yushchenkos. Mr. Yushchenko was portrayed as a fascist puppet of Western bankers and Kateryna as an active CIA agent. She responded by winning a libel judgment against a Russian television station that accused her of disloyalty to Ukraine. But the government has refused to process her application for Ukrainian citizenship.

Now that Mr. Yushchenko is to become president, it's likely he'll be able to push through more than his wife's citizenship application. He helped implement some free-market reforms when he served as prime minister for 16 months between 1999 and 2001 before being ousted by hard-liners in Parliament. Now he has a popular mandate at his back as well as international support, which has only increased with the success of his "orange revolution." His wife has also proved invaluable by introducing him to contacts in the West.

All this adds up to a rare opportunity for Mr. Yushchenko. Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine's 48 million people have seesawed between forming greater ties with the West or lurching back into becoming a vassal state of Russia. One out of six people are ethnically Russian. Still, a clear majority of voters now want the corrupt, pro-Moscow clique surrounding outgoing President Kuchma out of the government. Yulia Timoshenko, a charismatic ally of Mr. Yushchenko, says their time is up. She told reporters: "I think the key word for them in Sunday's exit polls was 'exit.' "

The challenge will be to move Ukraine towards a free-market economy. Mrs. Yushchenko makes clear that her husband makes all of his own political decisions, but she will no doubt be a valuable asset to him. "She is one of the brightest, most dedicated conservatives I have ever known," says Bruce Bartlett, a former official in the Treasury Department under the first President Bush. "Anyone who met Kathy quickly discovered that creating a free, successful Ukraine was her primary mission in life, to the exclusion of almost everything else."

Now the challenge facing Ukraine is to make the leap towards becoming a democratic society truly governed by the rule of law. Mrs. Yushchenko is realistic about the obstacles facing her husband and his team. "[Some] people are making a lot of money off the current system," she told ABC News. "The last thing they want is for the system to change and for the economy to be a free market economy where the general population benefits rather than a small group of people at the top."

Cynics may say that since Ukraine has never been a true democracy, reforming it will be impossible. But those are the same people who never predicted that hundreds of thousands of people would fill the streets of Kiev and other cities and force a new election. Nonetheless it happened. What happens next is now up to Mr. Yushchenko.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

Comment on this column by clicking here.


12/27/04 All the Votes Fit to Count: Ukraine gets to revote. Why can't Washington state?
11/22/04 It's time to bring some intellectual diversity to America's colleges and universities
10/26/04 Turnout Titans: Meet the gurus of getting out the vote.
10/18/04: We May HAVA Problem: Will ‘provisional ballots’ be the new chads?
10/12/04: Getting Physical: Union thugs target Republicans
10/04/04: The Producer: Meet Mary Mapes, the crusading journalist behind CBS's current troubles
09/23/04: Ballots or Briefs? In election 2004, the man with the most lawyers may win
09/13/04: I'd Rather Be Blogging: CBS stonewalls as "guys in pajamas" uncover a fraud
08/30/04: Tryout Time: The 2008 presidential campaign gets under way in New York.
08/23/04: Why we're refighting Vietnam: Blame McCain-Feingold
08/18/04: Silence of the Lamb: C-SPAN cancels 'Booknotes'
08/16/04: Louisiana North: Why New Jersey is a pit of corruption
08/02/04: Patriotic liberalism
07/28/04: Caught in the Web: How Democrats mobilized online and other campaign tales
06/28/04: Bad ACTors: If Dems want honest elections, why did a Soros-backed group hire criminals to get out the vote?
06/21/04: This Time, Get It Right: Instead of "lawyering up," both parties should be working to prevent another Florida
06/14/04: Don't Pardon Their French: "Good government" Californians embrace the system that produced David Duke
06/07/04: Freedom's Team: How Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II won the Cold War
05/25/04: Don't Touch That Dial? Radio hosts worry about the FCC's indecency regulations. What about political speech?
05/18/04: Anger Management: Dems start to realize that a campaign of hate won't beat President Bush
05/11/04: Will Sen. Kennedy turn out to be a political liability for John Kerry?
05/04/04: Buyer's Remorse: Dems start to worry that Kerry can't win
04/27/04: Arlen Specter's personality helps make him vulnerable in today's primary
04/20/04: Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks making laws should be a part-time job. He's right
03/23/04: Bragging of foreign support doesn't win many votes in America
03/16/04: The Vanishing Center: In both political parties, the defense of moderation is no virtue
03/09/04: A JFK-NBC Ticket? If Kerry wants to make things interesting, he'll consider Tom Brokaw for veep
03/02/04: As Virginia mulls a tax hike, all Americans should guard their wallets
02/24/04: Marriage of Inconvenience: Why same-sex nuptials make Democrats nervous
02/10/04: Republican Rot: Is Congress's GOP majority becoming as corrupt as the Democrats were?
02/03/04: Moore Trouble: Alabama's former chief justice may challenge Bush for the Religious Right vote
01/13/04: Rage of a Relic: Paul O'Neill is angry that the world has passed him by
01/06/04: Unintended Consequence: How Terry McAuliffe and James Carville created Howard Dean
09/03/03: The Anti-Dean: Why Hillary opposes the Democratic front-runner
06/27/03: The California jurist who may replace Justice O'Connor
06/02/03: Clinton the Hoover: Bill, Hillary and the Dems' political vacuum
05/27/03: Nerd Nirvana: Students are to the right of the faculty even at the U of Chicago
05/16/03: GOPers gain in the land of Humphrey and Mondale
04/28/03: With the war won, it's time for Bush to master the Senate
04/04/03: Is "diversity" on campus even a goal worth pursuing?
03/05/03: Sunday morning with the BBC
02/28/03: Shut Up, They Explained: If you can censor this, thank a teacher
02/21/03: Unmitigated Gaul: Saddam isn't the only dictator with whom Jacques Chirac is cozy
02/18/03: Growing number of black officials breaking ranks by calling for a more honest approach to race relations
01/31/03: Half and Half: Republicans have achieved parity among American voters
11/11/02: Sobering Thoughts: The GOP's cup runneth over? No, it's half empty
10/31/02: Blue Gray: California's governor answers a Nobel Prize winner with obscenities
10/14/02: Bad Hair Day: Did Montana Dems exploit antigay prejudice?
10/11/02: The kill-everything senate
09/30/02: Schroeder did what it took to win--but at what cost to Germany?
08/22/02: Buh-Bye Bob, So Long Cynthia : No amount of shouting could've saved Barr or McKinney
07/29/02: GOP: Get Over Panic --- Dems are vulnerable on corporate scandals, too
07/17/02: Not Just an Average Joe: A black GOPer may give Rep. Eliot Engel a run for his money
07/15/02: The McCain Mutiny-II
07/01/02: Opening the Schoolhouse Door: The politicians can't stop school choice now
06/20/02: The Body' Bows Out --- American politics will be duller without Jesse Ventura
06/06/02: It's time for President Bush to stand up to California's senators
05/16/02: A Court Intrigue: Procedural funny business in a racial-preference case
05/14/02: Thin moral ice: New revelations from a skater's Stasi files recall an oppressive era
05/09/02: Newark, Zimbabwe!?
05/02/02: Will Terror Leave Us No Choice? Teachers unions try to use Sept. 11 as an excuse for bad schools
04/23/02: The New Nixon? Al Gore plots his comeback
04/16/02: 'I, Uh, I Have No Comment': A union plays dirty in opposing an antitax initiative
03/31/02: Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!: Filibusters can help the Senate GOP get things done
03/14/02: Red-Light District: It's time to draw the line on gerrymandering
02/21/02: Slippery Slope: Can Dick Riordan beat California's Democratic governor?
02/14/02: Reform School: The Shays-Meehan incumbency protection act
02/07/02: Arizona Highway Robbery: Politicians make a grab for campaign cash
01/31/02: Disfranchise Lassie: Even dogs can register to vote. We need election reform with teeth
01/17/02: Dr. King's Greedy Relations: Cashing in on a national hero's legacy
01/10/02: Oil of Vitriol
01/04/02: The little engine that couldn't--and the senators who don't want it to
12/24/01: E-mail and low-cost computers could be conduits for a learning revolution
12/13/01: How Gore could have really won
12/07/01: Let our students keep their cell phones
12/04/01: Why the White House gave the RNC chairman the boot
11/12/01: A Winsome Politician: She won an election in a majority-black district--and she's a Republican
11/01/01: Bush Avoids Politics at His Peril
10/30/01: Cocked Pit: Armed pilots would mean polite skies
10/24/01: Chicken Pox: Hardly anyone has anthrax, but almost everyone has anthrax anxiety
10/11/01: Will Rush Hear Again? New technology may make it possible
10/04/01: Three Kinds of pols
08/24/01: Lauch Out: Who'll replace Jesse Helms?
08/08/01: Tome Alone: Clinton's book will probably end up on the remainder table
08/03/01: Of grubbing and grabbing: Corporation$ and local government$ perfect "public use"
07/31/01: Affairs of State: The Condit case isn't just about adultery. It's about public trust and national security
07/14/01: The First Amendment survives, and everyone has someone to blame for the failure of campaign reform
07/12/01: He's Still Bread: Despite what you've heard, Gary Condit isn't toast --- yet
07/12/01: Passing Lane: Left-wing attacks help boost John Stossel's and Brit Hume's audiences
06/25/01: Man vs. Machine: New Jersey's GOP establishment is doing everything it can to stop Bret Schundler
06/15/01: A Schundler Surprise? Don't count out "the Jack Kemp of New Jersey"
06/06/01: Memo to conservatives: Ignore McCain and maybe he'll go away
05/29/01: Integrity in Politics? Hardly. Jim Jeffords is no Wayne Morse
05/22/01: Davis' answer to California's energy crisis? Hire a couple of Clinton-Gore hatchet men
05/07/01: Prematurely declaring a winner wasn't the networks' worst sin in Florida
04/23/01: How to fix the electoral process --- REALLY!
04/11/01: A conservative hero may mount a California comeback
03/30/01: Can the GOP capture the nation's most closely balanced district?
03/09/01: Terminated
03/06/01: Leave well enough alone
02/22/01: Forgetting our heroes
02/15/01: In 1978 Clinton got a close look at the dangers of selling forgiveness
02/12/01: Clinton owes the country an explanation --- and an appology
02/06/01: How Ronald Reagan changed America
01/16/01: Why block Ashcroft? To demoralize the GOP's most loyal voters
01/15/01: Remembering John Schmitz, a cheerful extremist
12/29/00: Why are all Dems libs pickin' on me?
Dubya's 48% mandate is different than Ford's
12/13/00: Gore would have lost any recount that passed constitutional muster
11/13/00: The People Have Spoken: Will Gore listen?
10/25/00: She's really a Dodger
09/28/00: Locking up domestic oil?
09/25/00: Hillary gives new meaning to a "woman with a past"
09/21/00: Ignore the Polls. The Campaign Isn't Over Yet

©2001, John H. Fund