Ukrainian president's son fined US$3 for car registration violation

19-year-old Andrey Yushchenko, Ukrainian president's son, was fined 17 hryvna (US$3.36; Ђ2.80) for illegally driving a BMW registered to another person, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

According to the AP, the fine against Andrey Yushchenko was personally levied by Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko in a television broadcast late Wednesday and comes amid a public feud between the president and the media over reports on Andrey's allegedly extravagant lifestyle.

The reports have riveted readers in this impoverished nation, and sparked a public debate about privacy and the media as journalists test the boundaries of freedoms they won last year after Yushchenko's presidential victory.

Inna Kysel, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, said Andrey was expected to pay the fine Thursday.

Ukkrainian and Russian press last week published stories alleging that the BMW Andrey drives is worth US$160,000 (Ђ133,000) and that he frequently slaps down rolls of cash to pay bills at trendy restaurants.

After Yushchenko lashed out at the media for reporting on his son, hundreds of journalists signed a petition questioning his commitment to freedom of the press.

Yushchenko said that his son, a university student, works for an unidentified consulting firm and earns enough money to rent the car, which is registered in the Czech Republic.

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