KYIV - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has admitted that his answer to a question about his son at a news conference earlier this week was "too emotional" and said that this was "a lesson to him". Yushchenko called the journalist whom he offended at the 25 July news conference, SerhiyLeshchenko, and suggested shaking hands.At the news conference, Leshchenko asked him to comment on rumours that his son lives beyond his means, but Yushchenko called him "a hitman" and said the he "lied" in his articles.
Leshchenko authored a series of articles on the Ukrainian web site Ukrayinska Pravda exposing the reportedly lavish lifestyle of Yushchenko Jr.The following is the text of a report by Leshchenko posted on Ukrayinska Pravda on 29 July: Yushchenko's press secretary Iryna Herashchenko called Ukrayinska Pravda today. She asked me not to switch off the phone, as the president would call in two minutes' time. And so it happened.
Viktor Yushchenko spoke in a quiet voice, though one could feel that the conversation was not an easy one for him. We discussed the recent developments
triggered by the publication about Andriy Yushchenko and the harsh answers by the head of state during the press conference on 25 July.
Viktor Yushchenko said at the beginning that this case had several aspects
to it. As to his son, he said that he had a tough talk with him. Andriy Yushchenko made conclusions and the main thing now is that he should take time to understand what he has been through."In order to [help him] live through this, I want to support Andriy as much as I can and have him near me," Yushchenko Senior said.
He also said that his answer to my question on 25 July "was emotional" and that "this was a lesson" to him. It was clear from his voice that it was not easy for the president to say those words. I said that I understand him and bear no grudge.Yushchenko suggested extending hands to each other and "turning the
leaf in this conflict", which was started during the press conference.
Making use of Yushchenko's own expression, I said that his hand would not hang in the air. We shook each other's hands on the line.Yushchenko added that the consequences of this story may be used to destabilize the situation in the country. To that, I answered that this definitely was not the aim we pursued with our articles.
Yushchenko suggested a meeting during my trip to Crimea tomorrow with a journalist team covering the Cabinet of Ministers' regional meeting. I replied that it is not worth troubling him when he is with his family.I also assured the president that the article in Ukrayinska Pravda was not ordered or paid for by anybody. He sounded as if he accepted my arguments. At the end of our conversation, Yushchenko said, "See you".
This is good.