BRAMA, Nov 12, 2004, 1:00 pm ET
Yushchenko: Ukraine and family
Part III of The right to a European choice
Interview with Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko
Interview conducted by Waldemar Piasecki, New York-Kyiv. Filed November 4, 2004.
(WP) 1. Continuing with the American theme, let's ask a few personal questions. Your political enemies never tire of discrediting your wife - Katherine Yushchenko-Chumachenko. Because she was born, educated, and had an established career in America, she is called a spy, whose assignment is to manipulate you. Has she succeeded?
(VY) (Laughing) Any woman, even the most powerful one, that has 3 small children on her hands, can only be concerned about household problems. There is no time or energy left for anything else. I have a beautiful wife who is truly the guardian of our home, where we have a wonderful family atmosphere, which allows me to rest and forget about politics.
My family has become my greatest source of strength after becoming ill. Katherine along with our seven-month-old son Taras did not leave my side in the Austrian clinic [where I was treated]. Taras alone, without realizing it, aided me with just his presence and good humor. At the hospital, his first tooth started growing in and he started sitting up. I thank God and value every minute that I can spend with my children, mother and wife.
V.Yushchenko with his mother Barbara, wife Katherine (born in Chicago, IL, USA),
and children: 5-year-old Sofia, 4-year-old Khrystyna, 9-month-old Taras
in the arms of his mother, and children from his previous marriage, 23-year-old Lina with 21-year-old Andriy.
(WP) 2. Can you tell us about your family and the family of your wife? Your parents? Children? What is your family like?
(VY) My father was my hero - my main teacher. He fought during World War II, was wounded early on and was taken prisoner by the Nazis. He attempted to escape from the German concentration camps seven times, the last time from Oswiecim (Auschwitz). It's a miracle that he survived. After the war, he spent a lifetime as a village schoolteacher. My mother was also a teacher. Since father died, my mother has categorically refused to travel to Kyiv - and through today lives in our hometown Khoruzhiv. Actually, my mother has been in the hospital for the last 2 months - after watching Ukrainian television, she became afraid for my sake, and suffered a stroke.
The fate of my in-laws was also difficult. My mother-in-law, Sofia Yukhymiv, was only 15 when the Nazis took her from Ukraine to work as a slave-laborer in Germany. There she met her future husband, who as a soldier in the Red Army during World War II was captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. They married in 1945. Both wanted to return to Ukraine, but my father-in-law, Mykhailo Andriyovych, contracted a virulent form of tuberculosis. Katya's (Katherine's) parents obtained an invitation to emigrate to the U.S., where her father spent the rest of his life working as an electrician in a small town. He always dreamed of returning to his native Ukraine, and is now buried in Kyiv.
I am the very fortunate father of five children, and a grandfather. My oldest daughter Vitalina already has a family of her own - she is expecting her second child. My oldest son Andryi is a student. The younger girls - Sofia and Khrystyna - are mother's biggest helpers right now, helping to raise little Taras. There is far too little time that can be spent with my family, but we always spend holidays and birthdays together.
The candidate places flowers on the grave of his father, Andriy Yushchenko,
who was a prisoner in Aushwitz and other concentration camps.
(WP) 3. As president, will you pursue an investigation into the Gongadze case and other opposition cases, as well as the case of the Mykola Melnychenko tapes?
(VY) Opening the Gongadze case is a question of honor for the government of Ukraine, for today, this remains a failed test of democracy by the administration. I am convinced that sooner or later the public will learn the truth about the death of Heorhiy, and that all of those who ordered and executed this crime will be punished. To open this case, Ukraine needs an honest court system and honest law enforcement institutions. My greatest assignment will be to organize these areas.
Only after reorganizing our courts and power structures can we talk about independent investigations, among them being the "tape scandal" [Kuchmagate] and the disappearance of Heorhiy Gongadze. To do this should the current administration be preserved - is impossible.
(WP) 4. What would you say to those Ukrainians around the world that want to take pride in Ukraine not only because it has achieved 13 years of independence, but also dream about Ukraine as "a place to live."
(VY) I would tell them that dreams do come true. Of course, this will require a great deal of work and concentrated effort by all those who yearn for our Motherland. We chose our path and will stay the course through the end.
I am a believer. I believe in our nation. I know what needs to be done for Ukraine to flourish. I am sure that we will overcome all obstacles and will build a democratic, powerful and successful Ukraine.
* * * * *
Nov 8 04 - Part I: ELections The right to a European choice. Interview with Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko
Право на європейський вибір. Інтерв'ю з кандидатом в президенти - Віктор Ющенко
Nov 10 04 - Part II: Foreign Policy The right to a European choice
Nov 12 04 - Part III: Ukraine & Family The right to a European choice