When Victoria Spartz became one of the first US members of Congress to visit Ukraine since the start of the war, she was taking her life in her hands.
Spartz wanted to pledge American support for Ukrainians in their war against Russia. But more than that, the Ukrainian-born representative for Indiana’s 5th congressional district wanted to visit her grandparents in the devastated city of Chernihiv.
“Chernihiv actually held [its] ground for months and really saved Kyiv,” she told the Financial Times in an interview outside the chamber of the House of Representatives, having recently returned from her second trip to Ukraine since the war started.
“It’s good for Ukrainian people to see that American people do come,” she added. “Because what’s happening there . . . it’s just horrific.”
In the past few months, the first-term Republican has shot to national prominence. As the first and only Ukrainian-born member of Congress, she has become a regular face on television, calling for more aid to Ukraine and tougher sanctions on the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his allies.
With that profile has also come greater scrutiny of her working practices, however, with several former aides accusing her of bullying, according to a recent article in Politico. Spartz said in a statement: “I work extremely hard at a pace that is not for everyone.”
Born Viktoriya Kulheyko in Chernihiv when Ukraine was still part of the USSR, Spartz moved to the US 22 years ago. She met her American husband Jason Spartz on a train in Europe and soon agreed to marry him and move to his home state of Indiana.
While helping run her family’s small businesses, she says she became frustrated at the amount of bureaucracy and decided to get involved in state politics. Her early campaigns leaned heavily on her Ukrainian upbringing. “Born in the Soviet Union,” one said, “Victoria Spartz knows the misery of socialism.”
Her fiscally conservative views and passion for…
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