Not that it was much of a surprise, but when former Ukraine President Victor Yanukovych was ousted by parliament and finally fled to supporters in East Ukraine, the opposition moved in on his estate and discovered evidence of a lifestyle that far exceeded his claim of living a “modest” life. With the country on the brink of economic collapse, looking for aid from both Russia and the West, Yanukovych’s extravagant lifestyle very similar to China’s top officials, suggests corruption that didn’t just happen overnight. The blood of the opposition and the police forces alike paid for Yanukovych’s attempts to maintain power, yet he still insists on being Ukraine’s legitimate leader.
The opposition’s defense forces moved onto the 345 acre extravagant estate after Yanukovych fled to Kharkiv in the east. As would be predicted, he’d burned documents and tried to destroy others by throwing them into the lake. Many of those were fished out to dry and the story they told of a leader who had all of Ukraine’s best interests at heart put the lie to the reality of his rule. The downfall of Baby Doc’s regime and that of the Philippines Marcos rule draw strong parallels.
In the vacuum of Yanukovych’s fall, rumors are of talks of a spit between Ukrainian speaking West and Russian speaking East. Indeed a disquieting piece of legislature requiring Ukrainian as the country’s official language has east Ukraine fearful. The new parliament, that have purged all of the supporters of Yanukovych’s supporters deny talks of a country split and loudly claims the main goal is unity.
A standing ally of recently released ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko,who herself had been ousted by Yanukovych, speaker Oleksandr Turchinov has been selected as the interim president, and parliament’s concerns turn to justice. Specifically that concerning Yanukovych. Given the evidence of his corruption, Yanukovych is very likely to be brought up on charges. Details of his opulence that has the Ukrainian people outraged and seething include a $115,000 statue of a running boar, a private golf course, a $4,000 bribe, and millions spent on the estate for things such as curtains.
Yanukovych, in a televised statement, still maintains that the events surrounding his ousting amounts to little more than a coup. At this point, no one knows where he is and one protester has said she could not conceive of this being a victory until Yanukovych and his supporters, the “whole gang,” was brought into court.
Still, now that the violence is over and the country has the chance a real reform, Ukrainians face some tough decisions, such as what are they to do about those wanting to return to Russian influence. Given what was uncovered about Yanukovych, it’s hard to believe that anyone in the east would want to return to a control by Russia. Yet one supporter has pleaded that a statue of Lenin in East Russia not be destroyed, claiming the West has won and not to take a way reminders of the past.
Hopes of all Ukraine is for reforms and not a return to ousted president Yanukovych’s style of government.
Editorial by Lee Birdine