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Top Ukrainian magazine names US ambassador as country’s ‘most influential woman,’ highlighting extent of American leverage in Kiev

Top Ukrainian magazine names US ambassador as country’s ‘most influential woman,’ highlighting extent of American leverage in Kiev
Influential Ukrainian political magazine Focus has named Kristina Kvien, the acting US ambassador to Kiev, as the country’s most influential woman, in what the publication’s editor called “an unexpected and surprising choice.”

Kvien, who has been charge d’affaires since January 2020, beat out Ukrainian First Lady Elena Zelenskaya and Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova in the 2021 list of the top 100 women. In fifth place came Melinda Simmons, the British ambassador to Kiev.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova was also selected in the top 10.

The chosen women are ranked by their ability to independently make key decisions for the country and their impact on public opinion, as well as their business influence, personal popularity, and influence on the internet.

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Aleksey Gazubey, the magazine’s editor, called the decision “surprising,” but noted that “foreigners can significantly impact the situation in the country.”

“Yes, she is not a Ukrainian citizen, but she is like a symbol of the whole embassy’s influence on the situation in Ukraine,” he explained. “Of course, she does not make any decisions personally, but she can act as an adviser, influencing important decisions.”

By placing Kvien in the top spot, Focus’s editorial board believes that she has more influence over Ukraine than the president’s own wife and the country’s chief prosecutor, as well as well-known opposition politicians Yulia Timoshenko and Irina Gerashchenko.

The highest-ranking politicians loyal to President Volodymyr Zelensky came in 12th and 16th place.

Gazubey personally noted that the US Embassy has increased its leverage over internal issues in Ukraine, such as judicial reform, with Western embassies trying to influence the president’s decision over who should be responsible for electing members of the Supreme Court.

According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the choice of Kvien as Ukraine’s most-influential woman is proof of Kiev choosing to trade away its own national interest.

“Monuments to collaborators including Holocaust executioners, language quotas, civil strife, and the recognition of a foreign ambassador as the most-influential woman in the country – these are the results of political coups and national-interest trading,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel.

Kvien was appointed to her post in January 2020, but is yet to be confirmed officially. Before working in Ukraine, she served all over the world, including in France, the Philippines, and Slovenia. She also briefly worked in Moscow.

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