One of Moammar Gadhafi's Ukrainian nurses still supports her former-employer, who she views as a gentle, giving man.
In an interview with CNN, 25-year-old Oksana Balinskaya gave an insider view of Gadhafi 's personal life, providing a glimpse into aspects of the eccentric leader's routine that could only be speculated upon earlier.
Gadhafi famously loved women, and Balinskaya was just one of five female Ukrainian nurses on his personal staff. Before the current uprising, he also traveled with a retinue of all-female bodyguards and once gave a lecture in Italy during which he tried to convert models to Islam.
Additionally, at first glance it would seem that Gadhafi selected his nurses on looks rather than qualifications, and indeed Balinskaya noted that when applying for the job she beat out three nurses who could speak Arabic and had worked in Libya before.
But despite his reputation, Balinskaya says Gadhafi was never lewd, and even made his nurses dress down in his presence.
Our appearance was very humble so as to not attract anybody's attention, she said. We would never put on lipstick going to his house and have vivid colors in our clothes.
She also said that Gadhafi, who she and other nurses called daddy, never acted inappropriately, although he was known to give his staff lavish gifts.
None of us had ever been one-on-one with him, Balinskaya said in the interview. There wasn't even a single room in his household where we could have possibly been left alone with him.
I don't know who created this image about us nurses, as well as about his female bodyguards, she added. How could anyone [of] sane mind assume that we could have had any intimate relationship with Gadhafi?
Balinskaya was hired by Gadhafi in 2009 and worked for him up until the start of the Libyan revolt in February. Working on a scheduled rotation, she was responsible for taking the Libyan leader's blood pressure, checking his heart health, giving him vitamins and prescribing medication when he was ill.
She is now home in Ukraine, watching rebels scour Libya for Gadhafi, who is currently in hiding. In the interview, Balinskaya says she feels sorry for Gadhafi, who she says never mistreated her. She also found it hard to believe the reports that Gadhafi tortured his nannies and staff.
He would ask us whether we are happy and whether we have everything that we need, she said. Daddy gave us jobs, money and a good life.
Balinskaya added that she would like to return to Libya, either under Gadhafi or another leader. She said that life easier was there than in Ukraine, a facet which she credited to her ex-employer.
If it were not for Gadhafi, who else would have built it? she said. It was he who constructed it. He has transferred Libyans from camelbacks into cars.