News / Europe

    Fishing for Yanukovych’s Dirty Secrets

    A group of journalists and criminal investigators work to preserve and photograph papers found dumped at ousted president Viktor Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya estate outside Kyiv.
    A group of journalists and criminal investigators work to preserve and photograph papers found dumped at ousted president Viktor Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya estate outside Kyiv.
    Someone wanted the records to disappear without a trace under the gray waves of the Kyiv Reservoir. Instead, they are ending up on the Internet for everyone in the world to see.

    When ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage were fleeing the lavish presidential residence at Mezhyhirya, outside of Kyiv, on the night of February 21-22, they dumped hundreds of documents into the reservoir in an amateurish attempt to conceal the information they contain.

    But journalists and scuba divers showed up on the scene just hours later and began recovering the soggy papers. Some were floating surreally along the edges of the water; others were recovered in stuffed file folders from the depths.

    For the last three days, a group of journalists and criminal investigators from the post-Yanukovych government has been working to dry out the papers and the first 500 have now been photographed and placed on a special website Yanukovychleaks.org for all to see.

    According to the website, the trove includes nearly 200 folders of documents, although the exact number of pages is unknown. The 500 pages posted so far are only a small fraction, not more than two percent, of the total.

    'Like a medieval fiefdom'

    So far, it appears that the papers mostly tell the sordid story of the pompous Mezhyhirya estate itself - how it was questionably privatized by murky companies that now can likely be traced to Yanukovych and how it was remodeled and appointed at great expense. Other documents tell similar tales about Yanukovych's Sukholuche hunting lodge and other presidential retreats.

    Some images from Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya estate outside Kyiv:

    • People walk around Viktor Yanukovych's countryside residence in Mezhyhirya, outside Kyiv, Feb, 22, 2014.
    • People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • A man gestures behind the interior bar of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • A man holds one of Viktor Yanukovych's golf clubs at the golf course on Yanukovych's countryside residence in Mezhyhirya, Feb, 22, 2014.
    • People walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters and journalists look at ostriches kept on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych, Feb. 22, 2014.

    Many of the records seem to relate to cash payments ranging up to millions of dollars. One document from September 2010 apparently records the transfer of $12 million in cash for an unknown purpose.

    According to Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya, who is among those working on the documents, Yanukovych emerges "as an ugly man who ran both his home and his nation like a medieval fiefdom."

    There are also "blacklists" of Yanukovych's antagonists, including journalists, Femen activists, and members of Ukrainian nationalist organizations.

    Journalist and activist Tetyana Chornovol, who miraculously survived being abducted, beaten, and left to die on a freezing December night, was among those whose dossier was found at Mezhyhirya. Yanukovych's police at the time dismissed the incident as "road rage."

    'No idea about morality'

    Kyiv's Vernadskyy Library has provided special hot-air cannons that are used to rescue water-damaged documents, and they have been set up in a room in one of the presidential estate's outbuildings. A group of archivists who specialize in document restoration and preservation have also been working at the scene.

    Journalists, fearing their access to the documents could be restricted at any moment, have worked around the clock to photograph them. After the papers are dried, they will be properly scanned and the images placed on the Yanukovychleaks website.

    Project organizers are now promising that all the records, without exception, will be made available in the next few days.

    Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was quoted in The Guardian on February 25 as saying Yanukovych would openly brag about corruption and malfeasance in his government at international gatherings. At the U.N. General Assembly in 2011, Saakashvili said, Yanukovych talked openly about how he "corrupted" top officials and judges.

    "He didn't care who he was talking to," Saakashvili reportedly said. "The guy did not have any idea about morality."

    Robert Coalson contributed to this report from Prague

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora