Condoleezza Rice, Ukrainian Nurses, More Favorite Gaddafi Women: Photos

See photos of the dictator's stranger interactions with women, from the nurses to his virgin bodyguards.

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Andrew Medichini / AP

There are many bizarre things about deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, but his relations with women—from his wife to foreign dignitaries to his all-female bodyguards—are certainly among the strangest. Here, Gaddafi stands with one member of his corps of guards and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a man whose relations with women have been even more remarked upon, during a visit to Italy.

Yousef Allen / AP

Safia Farkash

Gaddafi with his wife, Safia Farkash, at Tripoli's airport in 1992. Farkash is Gaddafi's second wife, following an obscure and brief six-month marriage prior to the coup that brought him to power. He and Farkash met when he had appendicitis and she was a nurse, and they were married in 1970 or 1971 and have seven children. Her marriage has made Farkash extremely wealthy: she runs a major airline and is said to own some 20 tons of gold personally.

Halyna Kolotnytska via AP

Gaddafi's Nurses

Gaddafi stands with officials and nurse Galyna Kolotnytska in an undated photo. For years, Gaddafi also enjoyed the attention of a detail of Ukrainian nurses whom he flew in to care for him. Cables released by WikiLeaks smirked that Gaddafi relied heavily on a "voluptuous" blond nurse without whom he could barely function, though one former nurse told Newsweek in April that their relations with Gaddafi were always professional and never romantic or sexual. But the nurses deserted Gaddafi this spring, angry at his repression and fearful of violence. Kolotnytska had been in his employ for nearly a decade.

Antoine Gyori / Corbis

Meeting With French Women

After reconciling with Western leaders in 2003, Gaddafi embarked on a series of meetings with European dignitaries—but brought his eccentricities along with him. In 2007, he requested a meeting with prominent French women to discuss the status of women in their country. Here, he attends the December 2007 summit at the Pavillon Gabriel, tended by his bodyguards.

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Meeting With Italian Women

Gaddafi pulled a similar stunt in Italy, meeting with 700 women, with whom he said he wanted to discuss women's rights and compare their objectification in secular Europe to the position of honor he said women occupied in Libya. Here, he signs autographs after a speech to the women in Rome in June 2009.

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Condoleezza Rice

Gaddafi seems to have had a particular obsession with Condoleezza Rice, secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Rebels ransacking the Libyan dictator's Tripoli compound found an album of photos devoted to Rice, and he previously referred to her as “my darling,” saying, “I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders,” he said, adding, “Leezza, Leezza, Leezza...I love her very much.” Sadly for him, the pair seems to have met only once, during her visit to Tripoli in September 2008, the first such American trip in more than 50 years.


Elaterina Yushchenko

Gaddafi makes small talk with Ekaterina Yushchenko, wife of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, in 2008. The meeting took place in Gaddafi's Bedouin tent in Tripoli.

Paulo Duarte / AP

Gertrude Mongella

Gaddafi shares a moment with Gertrude Mongella, a Tanzanian, during the 2007 E.U.-Africa Summit in Lisbon. At the time, Mongella was president of the Pan African Parliament.

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whispers to Gaddafi during the during the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2010.

Ivan Sekretarev / AP

Pro-Gaddafi Protesters in Tripoli

In this photo from a government-organized tour, Libyan women chant and hold Gaddafi's portraits during a rally at Green Square in downtown Tripoli. The Associated Press reported in June that some women were among the core of loyalists remaining at Gaddafi's side as his regime crumbled because he had offered advancement to women with the government. Still, many women also opposed the regime.

Ettore Ferrari / EPA-Corbis

The All-Female Bodyguards

One of Gaddafi's most distinctive trademarks was his troop of bodyguards, all of them fierce-looking young women who marched with him, often wearing uniforms that were nearly as colorful as the dictator's famously flamboyant outfits—pairing fancy mascara and lipstick with combat camouflage. He typically traveled with 30 to 40 of them. The women were required to take a vow of virginity, and though often seen as a flourish, they meant business: in 1998, one died and two more were injured when Gaddafi was attacked.