The Ukrainian Nurse Speaks: Qaddafi ‘Was Much More Discreet Than His Friend’


It’s hard to get a read on Muammar Qaddafi. Sure, we all know he’s a ruthless genocidal dictator, but what’s he like in his personal life? What’s it like from inside his entourage? Oksana Balinskaya, one of the Ukrainian nurses from Qaddafi’s stable, who started working for “Papik” (a nickname meaning “little father” in Russian) when she was just 21 years old, offers Newsweek some telling insights by comparing him to other noted world leaders.

None of us nurses was ever his lover; the only time we ever touched him was to take his blood pressure. The truth is that Papik was much more discreet than his friend, the womanizer Silvio Berlusconi. Gaddafi chose to hire only attractive Ukrainian women, most probably for our looks. He just liked to be surrounded by beautiful things and people. He had first picked me from a line of candidates after shaking my hand and looking me in the eye. Later I learned he made all his decisions about people at the first handshake. He is a great psychologist.

For role models, Qaddafi looked further back in history than Berlusconi:

Sometimes, however, Papik acted more like a paranoiac rock star than a politician:

There you have it. Muammar Qaddafi, an enemy of the people, but thrower of candy, lover of beautiful things.

My Years As Gaddafi’s Nurse