Children of the Orange Revolution's extravagant ways

Click to follow

Andrey Yushchenko, 19, has caused a stir and considerable resentment in Kiev by ostentatiously driving a rare BMW car around the city and generally conducting a playboy lifestyle. His excesses have enraged Ukrainians, many of whom earn less than £100 per month.

Mr Yushchenko has rejected all accusations of impropriety concerning his family and has attacked the media for picking on "children". But his son, a student of international relations in Kiev, is now sarcastically referred to in sections of the press as the "Son of God".

So embarrassing has the scandal become that Andrey has released a written statement justifying his behaviour.

The brand new BMW M6 that is his vehicle of choice, which has a starting price in the region of £90,000, has come under particular fire. The car in question is apparently the only one of its kind in Kiev. The newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda has quoted witnesses who declare that Andrey should have been stripped of his driving licence long ago for accelerating down the narrow street where his girlfriend lives at 60 miles per hour.

The paper also wondered aloud how Andrey, a student in one of Europe's poorer countries, could possibly afford such an expensive car, noting that even his famous father - with an annual salary of about £34,000 - would be hard pressed to buy it.

Attention has also been drawn to Andrey's Vertu mobile phone, which is also the preferred handset of oligarchs across the former Soviet Union. His personal model is said to be the top of the range one, with a platinum body, that costs about £25,000.

As the optimism of the Orange Revolution becomes more muted, many Ukrainians are beginning to believe that power in the country may have simply shifted from the pro-Soviet oligarchy of former president Leonid Kuchma to a new elite. The president's son is being treated as a case in point.

Andrey, it is reported, always travels in the company of at least one of his two private bodyguards, who are said to be former bouncers from one of Kiev's nightclubs. The bodyguards are portrayed as bullying hoodlums who allow Andrey to avoid the police, break traffic rules and brush off journalists. The media has also discovered that Andrey's girlfriend, Anna, owns a brand new Mercedes CLS 500, worth more than £50,000, and that he is a regular at Kiev's most exclusive restaurants and clubs, where he allegedly buys French pink champagne at £700 a bottle.

The outcry comes soon after a similar backlash against Evgenia Tymoshenko, the London School of Economics educated daughter of Ukraine's Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Mr Yushchenko's defence of his son has been robust. He claims his son rents the BMW (although Andrey himself says it belongs to an acquaintance), had received the Vertu mobile phone as a gift from a wealthy friend and that he earned enough money from a part-time consulting job to pay for bodyguards.

"Don't go after women and children. Be bigger than that," he told a press conference. "Go after me." However, he seemed to admit that Andrey was at the very least guilty of poor judgement. "I said to my son why do you need such watches and phones. Get rid of them so that your hands don't touch them."