Veteran Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fears flying over water, prefers staying on the ground floor and almost never travels without his trusted Ukrainian nurse, a "voluptuous blond," according to a US document released on Sunday by Wikileaks.
Gaddafi's eccentric and unpredictable personality is described with relish in the State Department cable, which was posted on the New York Times website, a small sampling of the more than 250,00 documents unveiled by WikiLeaks on Sunday despite Washington's protests.
The cable from September 2009 describes how Gaddafi's preferences for shorter flights and accommodation on the ground floor created logistical headaches for his staff, and that the Libyan leader never traveled without a certain Ukrainian nurse at his side.
Gaddafi had a team of nurses and "relies heavily on his long-time Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska, who has been described as a 'voluptuous blond,'" said a secret cable from the Tripoli embassy dated September 29, 2009, written by the US ambassador, Gene Cretz.
One source, whose name was blacked out by the Times, tells the US embassy that Gaddafi cannot travel without Kolotnytska, "as she alone 'knows his routine,'" it said.
"Some embassy contacts have claimed that Gaddafi and the 38 year-old Kolotnytska have a romantic relationship," it said. "While he did not comment on such rumors, a Ukrainian political officer recently confirmed that the Ukrainian nurses 'travel everywhere with the Leader.'"
The cable was written after US officials had discussed arrangements for the Libyan leader's visit to New York last year to address the UN General Assembly.
After the nurse's travel paperwork was delayed, the Libyan government arranged a private jet to fetch her so she could join Gaddafi and his entourage in Portugal, where the leader spent the night en route to New York, according to the document.
During his visit, his first to the United States, Gaddafi was not allowed to set up his customary tent in Manhattan or to visit the site of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
According to other documents cited by the New York Times which were not posted on the paper's website, Gaddafi was so angered by his reception in New York that he threatened to break a pledge to return enriched uranium to Russia.
The US ambassador to Libya told the leader's son "that the Libyan governmenthad chosen a very dangerous venue to express its pique," said the cable, quoted by the Times.
The September 29 cable said Gaddafi is "almost obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel" who handle every detail.
The leader's "dislike of long flights and apparent fear of flying over water also caused logistical headaches for his staff" prior to the New York visit, the document said.
For his US trip, Gaddafi flew to Portugal and stayed the night, as a source said he "cannot fly more than eight hours" and that Gaddafi "does not like to fly over water."
US diplomats were also told that Gaddafi "must stay on the first floor of any facility that was rented for him" and that the leader "could not climb more than 35 steps."
This was the reason why Libyan officials chose an official residence in New Jersey as the preferred place for Gaddafi to stay during his US visit, instead of a Libyan diplomat's home in Manhattan, it said.
Although he had his Ukrainian nurse close at hand, Gaddafi did not bring his famed all-women guard unit with him to New York, and instead had only one female guard in a 350-member delegation, it said.