Oleh Yaroslavovych Tyahnybok (born November 7, 1968) is a Ukrainian politician and a member of the Verkhovna Rada; the leader of All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” political party. Previously he was elected councilman of the Lviv Oblast Council for several convocations.
Tyahnybok was born in the city of Lviv to a family of doctors and is a doctor himself. His father, Yaroslav Tyahnybok, a Merited Doctor of Ukraine, was a distinguished sports doctor, chief physician of the Soviet national boxing team, and a former boxer himself who achieved the title of the Master of Sports of the USSR. Oleh’s great-grandfather was a brother of Lonhyn Tsehelsky, a politician in the West Ukrainian People’s Republic. Tyahnybok states he remembers from when he was younger searches conducted by the agents of the KGB in his family’s apartment.
After secondary school, Tyahnybok enrolled into the Lviv Medical Institute and received part-time medical jobs as a corpsman and nurse, but after the second year was drafted to the army. After returning to the institute, he initiated the creation of the Med Institute Student Brotherhood – the first step in his life as a civil activist. Tyahnybok graduated from the institute in 1993 as a qualified surgeon (as he sometimes mentions, majoring in urology). In 1994 25-year-old Tyahnybok was elected to the Lviv Oblast Council, and in 1998 he was elected to the Verkhovna Rada.
In October 1991 Tyahnybok became a member of the Social-National Party of Ukraine. He is characterised as representative of Ukraine’s far right. From 1994 until 1998, Tyahnybok served as a member of the Lviv Regional Council. In 1998, Tyahnybok was first elected to the Ukrainian Parliament as a member of Social-National Party of Ukraine; in the parliament he became a member of the People’s Movement of Ukraine faction. In 2002, Tyahnybok was reelected to the Ukrainian parliament as a member of Victor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc. In parliament he submitted 36 motions for debate, but the parliament adopted only four of them. In the majority of his motions, he opposed the introduction of the Russian language as the second official state language; proposed recognition of the fighting role of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Insurgent Army during World War II; called for the lustration (regulation of political involvement) of former communist officials, security service officers and undercover agents; and demanded the prohibition of communist ideology. None of these motions was adopted.
On July 20, 2004, Tyahnybok was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction after he made a speech in the Carpathian Mountains at the gravesite of a commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. In the speech, which was aired on television in the summer of 2004, he made comments such as,
“[You are the ones] that the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine fears most”
“They were not afraid and we should not be afraid. They took their automatic guns on their necks and went into the woods, and fought against the Moskali, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”
In his defence Tyahnybok said he had not offended Russians in calling them an occupying force as this was based on historical fact. He also denied that he was anti-Semitic, saying he was rather pro-Ukrainian.
Since February 2004 Tyahnybok has headed the All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom”.
In April 2005, Tyahnybok co-signed an open letter to President Yushchenko calling for a parliamentary investigation into the “criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine.”
Tyahnybok stood as a candidate for the post of Mayor of Kiev during the Kiev local election in 2008. In the elections Leonid Chernovetskyi was reelected with 37.7% of the vote, while Tyahnybok received 1.37% of the vote.
Tyahnybok’s results in the presidential elections of 2010
Tyahnybok was a candidate for President of Ukraine in the 2010 presidential election for the All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom” party. He received 352,282 votes, or 1.43% of the total. He received most of his votes in the Halychyna oblasts–Lviv oblast, Ternopil oblast and Ivano-Frankivsk oblast–and his vote share in this region amounted to five percent of the total ballots cast. In the second round, Tyahnybok did not endorse a candidate. He did present a list of some 20 demands that second round candidate Yulia Tymoshenko had to fulfil first before gaining his endorsement – which included publicizing alleged secret deals Tymoshenko had with Vladimir Putin and ridding herself of what he called Ukraine-haters in her close circles.
During the 2010 Ukrainian local elections Tyahnybok’s party won between twenty and thirty percent of the votes in Eastern Galicia where it became one of the main forces in local government.
During the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election Tyahnybok was re-elected (he was top candidate on his party list) to the Ukrainian parliament when his party won 38 seats. Tyahnybok was elected leader of the party’s parliamentary faction.
In March 2014 Russia launched a criminal case against Tyahnybok, and some members of Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defence for “organizing an armed gang” that had allegedly fought against the Russian 76th Guards Air Assault Division in the First Chechen War.
Unlike both imperialism and globalism, modern nationalism seeks a healthy balance between domestic development and productive international relations. Nationalists will always find a common language with patriots in other countries because true nationalism means both love of your own nation and respect for others. Only he who respects himself has the power to respect others.
Tyahnybok in a January 2010 interview with Business Ukraine
Tyahnybok regards Russia as Ukraine’s biggest threat. He has accused the Medvedev presidency of “waging virtual war on Ukraine along many fronts – in the information sphere and the diplomatic sector, within the energy trade and throughout the world of international PR spin”. He is pro-NATO and critical of the European Union, but supports a Europe of free nations. According to polls both stances put him at odds with the majority of Ukrainians. Tyahnybok also wants to deprive Crimea of its autonomous status and Sevastopol of its special status.
Tyahnybok wants to introduce an “ethnicity” section into Ukrainian passport, a visa regime with Russia, and for Ukrainians to pass a Ukrainian language test to work in the civil service.
Tyahnybok wants to re-establish Ukraine as a nuclear power. He believes this would stop the “Russian virtual war on Ukraine” (mentioned above).
Tyahnybok wants Ukrainian to be the official state language of Ukraine, but also believes there should be no discrimination against linguistic minorities.