Entries in Oksana Balinskaya (1)


Gadhafi: Lover of Gold Watches, Italian Food, Being Called 'Papa'

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- The world got some rare insight Tuesday into the secret world of embattled Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi from one of his former Ukrainian nurses, Oksana Balinskaya.

Balinskaya, one of five nurses assigned to Gadhafi's personal medical team, fled Tripoli in February as Libya erupted into near civil war. She returned to her native Ukraine and has been in hiding ever since. In a rare interview with a leading Russian newspaper Tuesday, she lifted the lid on the bizarre world of those living close to Colonel Gadhafi.

According to Balinskaya, Gadhafi's loyal servants call him "Papa," and in return for their loyalty they receive special gold watches embossed with his face, one every year on the anniversary of his coming to power.

"On September 1 every year, the date when Gadhafi [assumed power], we were given Italian gold watches with his picture on them. People who have been working for him for six or eight years, why they've got an entire collection already. You can only tell somebody who works for Papa by their watch," she told Russia's Komosomolskaya Pravda.

On one trip to New York, Balinskaya claimed Gadhafi gave large sums of cash to his entourage so they could go shopping in Manhattan.

"Papa gave a personal order to give us some money so we could run around the local boutiques," she said. According to her, Gadhafi, despite his sometimes eccentric public behavior, is in great physical shape, enjoys eating Italian food, couscous and camel meat.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio