Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych remains in hiding while anti-government protestors continue to release photographs and documents that reveal secret treasures from his mansion. As Ukraine recovers from three months of protests and violence centered in the country’s capital Kiev, anti-government protesters discovered the estate and castle of the former President who is believed to have fled to the pro-Russian autonomous parliamentary republic of Crimea, about five hundred miles south of Kiev. The vast estate is reported to house a zoo, fake man-made ruins, an artificial lake, a gigantic themed ship restaurant and a garage that holds over 70 cars and motorcycles from around the world.
Ukraine’s interim government has also declared Yanukovych a criminal and has issued a warrant for his arrest. The primary accusation against the former president include the authorization of force that resulted in army and police action that has claimed the lives of nearly a hundred protestors and police, injuring thousands more. The flight of former President Viktor Yanukovych has resulted in many of his secret treasures—worth millions of dollars—being discovered by protestors who claim to have captured his estate. The estate that spreads across nearly 350 acres— about the size of London’s Hyde Park—has come to symbolize Yanukovych’s tenure and approach to the premiership. The garage at the Presidential palace –Mezhyhirya –features some of the most expensive cars in the world including a Knight XV SUV priced at half a million dollars, several GAZ M20 Pobeda worth $50,000 apiece and several popular Russian automobiles. The net value of the cars alone is said to be over $2 million.
In November 2013, President Viktor Yanukovych had announced the abandonment of an agreement with the European Union, one that was popularly seen as the much-needed economic stimulus that the nation’s failing economy needed. The president had decided to accept $15 billion from Russia in exchange for government bonds and a significant fuel subsidy. The ensuing protests that only ended three days ago saw millions of people converge on the nation’s capital Kiev to protest what was seen to be President Yanukovych’s support of Russian interests and the worsening economic climate that had left the country with less than fifty percent of its foreign investment inflow. Activist Valeri Kazachenko said of the former president, “He [Yanukovych] must answer for all the crimes he has committed against Ukraine and its people and must be tried by the court of the people right here in the [Kiev] square.”
As the citizens of Kiev mourn the dead and recover from the violent retaliation by government troops, there are further revelations about Yanukovych’s plans to use the army to engineer mass killings of civilians. As protestors poured into the massive gates of Mezhyhirya, security forces were on hand to ensure peace and prevent vandalism. As some protestors looked through the secret treasures of former President Viktor Yanukovych, others photographed the scenes or played a round of golf on the full-sized course that is part of the estate. The presidential guards had abandoned their posts, but with the house sealed and thousands of private and confidential documents in the hands of protestors, the greatest treasures and secrets of the house are yet to be revealed.
By Grace Stephen