• Ex-Professor Upsets Ukraine Politics, and Russia Peace Accord - The New York Times
    #Minsk #SAMOPOMICH #Donbass

    KIEV, Ukraine — WHEN she moved into her office as deputy speaker of Parliament a little over a year ago, Oksana I. #Syroyid hung a large oil painting called “The Edge of the Sky Is Glowing.” It shows a man turning his back on the viewer while flames burn on the horizon.

    “This,” she said, “is every oligarch and every Russian agent who is still in Ukraine.”

    With her own fast burn of ambition, ferocity and style, Ms. Syroyid of the center-right Self-Reliance party, a former law professor, has shot to the top of Ukrainian politics. A political insurgent, she has made a signature issue of derailing a peace agreement with Russia and, in the process, may have eclipsed the former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, as the most powerful female politician in Ukraine.

    A 39-year-old native of the Lviv region in the country’s nationalist west, Ms. Syroyid talks boldly about Ukraine acting in its own interests, not those of outside powers. “We need to stop thinking of how to counter Putin, or how to please all our partners,” she said in a recent interview.

    The question many here ask is whether Ms. Syroyid, a relative newcomer, can somehow master the byzantine structure of Ukrainian politics and emerge as the one to lead the country out of the morass of corruption and government dysfunction that threatens its future. Or, is she just another in a line of ambitious upstarts causing Western governments their latest headache in Ukraine and, possibly, taking the country down with her?
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    One thing is certain: She is not afraid to take a stand.

    To the dismay of Western diplomats, Ms. Syroyid (pronounced “Seer-o-Eed”) has blocked Parliament from passing a constitutional amendment granting virtual autonomy to the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine — a central element of the Minsk II peace accord that ended the hot war in Ukraine a year ago.

    Last month, she pulled the Self-Reliance party out of the ruling coalition, inviting new parliamentary elections despite strong feelings in Brussels and Washington that Ukraine is too unstable to go through another round of voting.

    “We have to be ourselves,” she said in a recent interview. “And only if we are good at that will we have partners and friends.”

    A BOOKISH, bespectacled expert on the Ukrainian Constitution, Ms. Syroyid put away her professorial turtlenecks when she entered politics and now dresses to the nines, saying she is taking a cue from Ms. Tymoshenko, the braided, crusading pioneer of female politicians in this patriarchal country.

    “She definitely is the brightest person in Ukrainian politics, and not only among women,” said Ms. Syroyid, who earned a law degree in Canada. “She is very stylish, and has a very feminine look. At the same time she is known for her tough decisions.”

    None have been tougher than Parliament’s de facto rejection of Minsk II, which takes its name from the capital of Belarus where President Petro O. Poroshenko and Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, signed it, with French and German mediation.