Veteran Israeli Campaign Manager Plays Svengali to Ukraine's Tymoshenko

Tal Silberstein softening Yulia Tymoshenko's tone, lowers her sights in advance of Sunday's presidential election.

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Yulia Tymoshenko during talks in Ukraine about quelling pro-Russian protests in country's east.
Yulia Tymoshenko during talks in Ukraine about quelling pro-Russian protests in country's east.Credit: Reuters

In the home stretch of her failing campaign for the Ukrainian presidency, the braided-haired Yulia Tymoshenko has suddenly and noticeably softened her tone, a shift being attributed to the advice of her new Israeli adviser, the Israeli website ynet reported.

Tal Silberstein, one of Israel's leading political campaign managers, reportedly aims to guide Tymoshenko not to an election victory on Sunday, which is now seen as an impossibility, but rather to gaining the next president's appointment as prime minister in the new government.

Tymoshenko's change of tack, coming at Silberstein's suggestion, is reportedly not being welcomed by everyone on the candidate's staff.

Silberstein came to prominence for his key role in Ehud Barak's successful 1999 campaign for prime minister, and since then has gone on to work for candidates in Austria, Bolivia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Italy.

Tymoshenko, a natural gas tycoon who reinvented herself as a heroine of the people, was the country's premier in 2005 and 2007-10. After losing the 2010 presidential race to the Russian-backed candidate, she was jailed for embezzlement, then was released by popular demand in the closing days of February's revolution in Kiev.

However, her star has since dimmed, and recent polls give her only 6 percent to 8 percent of the vote, compared to some 33 percent for Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire in his own right.

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