Against a background of scandals about summer cottages of political leaders and oligarchs, Ukraine’s President produces an effect of an ascetic.
His cottage is located in Bezrodichi, 33 km from Kiev, on bog. The place is not elite; there is no fence with barbed wire.
Access road is not paved with asphalt, but road metal and sand. Construction work is being conducted still. Neighbour’s sheep and cows pasture near his house.
The territory of Yushchenko’s country-house is about a hectare. There are five or six buildings, a pond with a house for ducks, bee-garden (about a score of hives), small exhibition of little hives in the form of funny figures and lodges, fruit trees and a pussy-willow, which “remembers” Taras Shevchenko and which was brought from the poet’s land.
Victor Yushchenko says he saved on design and building materials. He developed the house interior by himself; building materials were bought from a neighbour. All bricks in the house are from destroyed houses, some of them date back to 1880 year. Decoration, railing and verandah are made of oak mainly.
There are also hens, peacocks and “revolutionary” cats (with orange strips round necks).
There is a bath-house on, but President has never tried it: doctors do not recommend him to take heat procedures after the poisoning. Besides, there is a stylized mill with revolutionary horseshoe “TAK!” – as a remembrance about “orange” events.
In his country-house Yushchenko meets guests: Vladimir Putin, Xavier Solana, Nino Burdjanadze, Mikhael Saakashvili were there. The Georgian leader presented Yushchenko a huge carved armchair; Russian president liked earthenware crockery and tiled stove.
There are a lot of homespun rushniks (towel-decoration), traditional Ukrainian skirts and belts, which hang on the walls. Victor Yushchenko collects ancient Ukrainian women clothes – it is another hobby of President.
Another two-storied house is used as Yushchenko’s personal cabinet. There are ancient icons and big portrait of Taras Shevchenko. Icons of the Blessed Virgin, Saint Nickolay and Saint Zosima – protector of beekeeping prevail.
There is a house-museum with linen table-cloth and towels, earthenware crockery, ancient spinning-wheels, washing board of wood. The house dates back to last century and was brought from Ivano-Frankovsk region.
President says he likes this place very much, but can not visit it often, only once or twice a month.
In one of these occasions President conducted an excursion for journalists. What for? There are several reasons.
First: demonstration of transparency, openness of the new power. President has nothing to hide.
Second: accented modesty of the country’s head in private life. President is like the people, who elected him.
Third: an attempt to “make up” for the scandal story with Yushchenko’s son, who prefers luxury, elite cars and expensive restaurants.
Forth: it is a public response to tough critics concerning big expenses for building presidential residences – in Baturin, Guta, Crimea, and Kiev. Yushchenko wants to say that he is not an adherent of luxury. The reconstruction of hetman residence in Baturin, Livadiya Palace and other places for presidential residences is nothing but a desire to save cultural heritage.
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