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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid