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After graduating from Dnepropetrovsk University in 1984 with a degree in economics, Timoshenko worked as an engineer-economist at the Lenin car factory in Dnepropetrovsk. In 1989, she became the commercial director of the youth center "Terminal," then worked as the commercial director at a company called "Ukrainian Gas Corporation." From November 1995 to January 1997, Timoshenko was the president of the industrial-financial corporation called "United Energy Systems of Ukraine" – the largest business structure in CIS.
Timoshenko has served as a people’s deputy since 1996.
Since 1997, she has been the first deputy of the party "Gromada," where she was the head of the shady Cabinet of Ministers.
On December 30, 1999, Timoshenko was appointed as vice-premier of the fuel-energy complex. A year later she was relieved of her duties as she was found to be implicated in two criminal cases.
On February 13, 2001 she was arrested and jailed in Lyukyanovsk holding cell (Kiev). She was released after 42 days, having signed an agreement not to leave the city.
In January 2001, Timoshenko became the head of the forum of national salvation and was later elected to be the leader of her own electoral bloc. In March 2002, Timoshenko and her bloc won seats in the Parliament, raising 7.2% of votes.
In the fall of 2002, Timoshenko was an active participant in protests "Stand up, Ukraine." In the summer the Russian military office of public prosecutor instigated a case against the employees of the Russian Ministry of Defense, who were supposedly accepting bribes from Timoshenko. An international search was called for the leader of BJT (Block of Julia Timoshenko). On January 28, 2004, the head prosecutor Piskun announced that Timoshenko’s case in Ukraine is closed.
On February 4, the Verkhovna Rada swore in Julia Timoshenko as Prime Minister of Ukraine by 373 votes.