319 journalists have so far signed the petition (in Ukrainian), asking Yushchenko to apologize publicly to Serhiy Leshchenko, the guy who wrote the Son of God pieces for Ukrainska Pravda, and to answer questions about his family's sources of income.
- Update: 9:30 pm - 416 journalists, though at least two of them have signed up twice - Natalya Katerynchuk (#185 and #320) and Halyna Kovalyova (#186 and #321), both with the NTN TV channel...
Political scientist Andriy Duda, however, points out in a piece in Telekritika (in Ukrainian) that some of the names on the petition (Boris Kolesnikov's press secretary, the editor of the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine's site) are sadly familiar from the times when it paid more and was in general much safer to be a conformist and pour dirt over Yushchenko.
The story of Yushchenko vs. the press has already made it to the Independent, BBC and RFE/RL.
I loved the following RFE/RL passage - I was so busy cheering for Yushchenko then that I only vaguely remember this joke now:
Last year's Orange Revolution elevated him to near-hero status, prompting many Ukrainians to joke that the only difference between God and their new president was that God didn't think he was Yushchenko.
It reminded me of what I wrote back in November, after watching Yanukovyvh offer candies or sunflower seeds to Putin during a parade:
[...] It was so hilarious. Yanukovych looked so idiotic. He looked like one of those rubber dolls from the extremely biting and popular Russian political TV show that Putin put an end to a few years ago. It was totally hilarious.
And all of a sudden, I began to wonder: what are we gonna do if Yushchenko gets elected as this country's next president? What, apart from building a truly democratic and prosperous state, are we gonna do if Yanukovych loses? Who are we gonna make jokes about? What are we gonna do with all our beautiful sense of irony, cultivated for so many years by our Soviet leaders and then by President Kuchma? In the past ten years, we've grown so used to disrespecting our current leader, who had provided us with such a smooth transition from the idiocy of the Soviet times. What are we gonna do when Yushchenko gets elected? He's such a positive man, he wouldn't give us reasons to sneer at him. Moreover, his victory would be too precious to mar with our totally healthy sarcasm. What on earth are we gonna do?
We'll see, I guess. We'll find ways to sublimate. Yanukovych and Kuchma aren't gonna vanish into thin air after their fiasco in two weeks. We'll survive.
I still hope so much that Yushchenko, boring or not, wins.
What happened now isn't funny. It hurts.
Here's what a dear journalist friend has written me today, when I asked him to be my periscope, to help me get a better feel of what's going on in Kyiv while I'm stuck in Moscow:
It looks ugly. I think it's the second major PR flop within days of the Goverla fuck-up. Yushchenko wasn't drunk. He just wasn't and isn't Vaclav Havel and that's a big problem for him and all of us who voted for him. He was addressing the UP guy by "ty" but I can sort of swallow that since, I'm sure, they'd known each other for quite some time. Still, even then, Yushchenko shouldn't have said what he said. He said, "Behave as a decent journalist and not as a hired killer." Jesus, Yushchenko won thanks, in many ways, to that particular guy and dozens other journalists and I hope he realizes that. His son behaves like a typical president's son and if I were his father I'd send him out to Africa to help people in Niger and learn about life.
Abdymok has also done a piece on the scandal - Hedgehog Day:
leshchenko told the nation’s biggest daily tabloid “fakty” on july 27 that he decided to write the story after a local resident complained to him about andrey’s reckless driving.
“one local told me that he came close to running over a family of hedgehogs that lives on lyuteranska,” he said. “we then decided to find out for ourselves how the president’s son drives.”
According to Abdymok, Serhiy Leshchenko is 24 years old and joined Ukrainska Pravda when he was Andriy Yushchenko's age, 19, on Sept. 24, 2000, just a few days after Georgiy Gongadze's disappearance.