Oleh Tiahnybok
Head of "Svoboda" party

Oleh Tiahnybok

Oleh Tiahnybok was born into a family of doctors. The highest values cherished in it were patriotism and dedication to one's commitments. In his childhood, Oleh was frequent witness to home searches by the Soviet security service, KGB. His grandfather, Artemij Tsehelskyj, refused to join the Moscow-affiliated church, a deed for which he and his family spent 7 years in exile in Siberia. The family had constantly been under KGB surveillance. Later, Oleh said that his choice in life had been made in those years when valuable family relics, old photographs and letters, went missing after the searches.

After finishing secondary school, he entered the Lviv Medical Institute, enlisting in the army in his second year of studies. This was the period when his will was tempered. He opposed flagrant harassment of young soldiers by their elders and got involved into political debates. "Estonians told they hoisted their national flag [when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1985]. I was proud when Ukrainian national flags appeared during the May 1 demonstration in Lviv in 1989, " Tiahnybok recalled.

Completing his military service, Oleh returned to his studies and initiated the creation of the Students' Brotherhood in the Medical institute, becoming its head in 1989. He was elected head of the Lviv Students' Brotherhood in 1991. In this period, Oleh Tiahnybok was participant and one of the leaders of hunger strikes by students in Kyiv in 1990 and 1992.

His goal was to become a well-qualified surgeon. As a sophomore and senior, he took jobs as orderly and nurse, attending also a physiological research group. Meanwhile, political activities were grasping him more and more.

In 1994, at the age of 25, he was elected deputy of the Lviv oblast council. In 1998, he won his seat in the Ukrainian legislature, running on the nationalist ticket. Ever loath of crowd-pleasing agenda, he ran for Verkhovna Rada in the same constituency in 2002, winning even more voter support and proving that Ideas and Faith can defeat money bags. He joined the Svoboda party in 1991, being in charge of its organizational department, then heading the Lviv oblast branch and later the Kyiv city Svoboda branch. Since 2004, Oleh Tiahnybok has been the leader of Svoboda.

Oleh has a degree in law from the Lviv Franko University. He is married and he and his wife, Olha, have three children, daughters Yaryna-Maria, Daryna-Bohdana and son Hordiy.

"Fighting is in my blood, " Oleh once admitted in an interview.

His family had many dedicated patriots. His mother's grandfather, Lonhyn Tsehelskyj, was deputy in the Viennese parliament and one of the initiators of the creation of the West Ukrainian People's Republic. On behalf of WUPR, he proclaimed the Act of Unification between WUPR and the Ukrainian People's Republic on the Sofia square in Kyiv.

Among his distinguished ancestors, Oleh has the renowned Academician Ivan Krypyakevych, Father Mykola Tsehelskyj as well as Father Roman Lysko (the latter immured alive by Stalin secret police, NKVD in the Lontsky Street prison in Lviv). Both clergymen were beatified by Pope Paul II during his visit to Ukraine.