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Kiev mayor denies daughter's jewels stolen

/ Source: The Associated Press

The mayor of Kiev's daughter told police she was robbed of $5.5 million worth of jewelry as she traveled by car from Charles de Gaulle airport to the French capital, Paris police said Tuesday.

A spokesman for her wealthy father, however, immediately denied the report, which could be embarrassing considering that his daughter heads a charity organization funded by his own city government and many Ukrainians are struggling amid a widespread recession.

A Paris police official said Kristina Chernovetska reported that a man broke into her luxury car Monday as it stopped on a highway north of Paris, then stole her purse.

Chernovetska reported the incident to authorities and said the purse contained the valuable rings and earrings, the official said. The official was not authorized to be named according to police policy and gave no further description of the jewelry.

A spokesman for Kiev mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, however, denied that there was a robbery.

"This is somebody's bad joke. We completely deny these reporters about a robbery. There was no robbery," spokeswoman Marta Hrymska said.

Banking magnate
Chernovetsky was one of the first banking magnates in Ukraine after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and sold his Pravex Bank for €493 million to Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo in June 2008.

French police said they contacted the Ukrainian Embassy about the incident, but the embassy would not comment on it Tuesday to The Associated Press.

Hrymska insisted that Chernovetska was in Kiev, but her whereabouts remained unknown Tuesday.

A receptionist at the luxury George V hotel just off the Champs Elysees confirmed that a "Christina" Chernovetska was registered, but it was not clear if that was the same person.

At the George V, the least expensive room is $1,025 a night. Luxury limousines lined up in front of the hotel for guests in furs and designer sunglasses while diners inside lunched beneath crystal chandeliers. Among goods on sale at the George V are $136,700 pearl necklaces.

Chernovetska, 30, has degrees in law and economics and heads the charity organization "Luchshy Dom" ("Best House"), a home for poor older people funded by the city of Kiev. She has also previously worked on her father's political campaigns.

The report of the jewel theft led to a political backlash Tuesday, as Volodymyr Bondarenko of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc poked fun at both daughter and father.

"Chernovetsky needs to immediately call up his favorite grandmas and grandpas so that they could sacrifice part of their pensions to buy Kristina back her jewels," Bondarenko said in a statement.