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Mansion Sweep Reveals Riches

Published: February 26, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • An ornamental horse outside Yanukovychs countryside residence near Kiev.
    Photo: Efrem Lukatsky / AP

KIEV Cash: $12 million. Decoration of a dining hall and tea room: $2.3 million. Statue of a wild boar: $115,000. A bribe: $4,000.

These are some of the expenses detailed in financial documents found in ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovychs abandoned residence, which was occupied by protesters after the leader fled the capital.

Related: Yanukovych Blocked from Leaving Ukraine, Speaker Says

As thousands of Ukrainians continued to tour Yanukovychs opulent estate outside of Kiev on Sunday, evidence was uncovered of lavish spending in an economy that is teetering on the verge of default.

Yanukovych left Kiev on the night of Feb. 21 after opposition protesters took control of the capital and the national parliament in the wake of deadly clashes with police last week. More than 70 people were killed and hundreds were injured.

While visitors gawked in awe and outrage at Yanukovychs luxurious mansions, ponds and exotic animals, journalists combed through heaps of documents that appeared to show a leader who basked in extravagant wealth while his country sought bailouts from both the West and Russia.

Related: Warrant Issued for Deposed Ukraine Leader for Mass Murder

Many of the financial and other documents were burned, while others were dumped in a lake before Yanukovych fled his closely guarded residence, flying to the eastern city of Kharkiv, where his support base is strongest. Divers were able to retrieve many of the documents, and activists laid them out to dry.

Photos of the documents were posted online by Mustafa Nayem, a top Ukrainian investigative journalist for the Ukrainska Pravda website and Hromadske.tv online news channel. Other respected Ukrainian news outlets also reported on the documents.

One was a receipt for $12 million in cash. Another invoice was for a payment of $10 million. Some 80,000 euros ($110,000) went for curtains in a room called the knights hall. Another 1.1 million euros ($1.5 million) was spent on plants. Wooden decor for a handful of rooms cost $2.3 million.

Notably, $115,000 was spent for a statue of a running boar, possibly intended for Yanukovych, who is an avid hunter.

One page listed expenditures, and next to item No. 47 on the sheet was a payment of 32,580 hryvna ($4,000) for what was described as a bribe used in a bidding process.

The documents were sure to fuel more anger among protesters.

Yanukovychs residence in Mezhyhirya Park, about 140 hectares of forested hills along the Dnieper River, had become for many Ukrainians a symbol of a corrupt administration.

After Yanukovychs departure from Kiev, the estate was taken over by the oppositions self-defense units, which opened it to visitors and deployed activists to maintain order and prevent any looting or property damage.

Ukrainians, many bringing their children, rushed to tour the parks. They reacted with wonder and revulsion at the opulence, including Yanukovychs private golf courses, pig farm and a small zoo with ostriches and peacocks.

Some have called for turning the site into a hospital, sanatorium or even a museum of corruption.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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