This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 25 June, 2019
Advertisement

PICS: Protesters have a snoop around ousted president's stately home

Hundreds turned up to have a look around the vast estate.

Image: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images

A VAST COUNTRY estate, marble-lined mansions, a private golf course and zoo: the unimaginable luxury of the private residence of departed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was flung open Saturday for all to see.

As parliament voted to oust Yanukovych after he fled to a pro-Russian bastion in east Ukraine following months of bloody protest against his rule, thousands of Ukrainians wandered awestruck around the breathtaking luxury of his abandoned property some 15 kilometres from Kiev after it was taken by demonstrators.

“I am in shock,” said retired military servicewoman Natalia Rudenko, as she looked out over the manicured lawns studded with statues of rabbits and deers.

“In a country with so much poverty how can one person have so much — he has to be mentally sick.

The world needs to see this and bring him to justice.

Cars backed up for kilometres and a large crowd lined up patiently at the imposing wrought iron front gates to get a glimpse of the former leader’s lavish lifestyle, fit for even the most ostentatious billionaire oligarch.

“Don’t worry, everyone will get to go inside — it is big enough for all of you,” an opposition activist standing atop a column shouted through a loudhailer.

He warned people to stay off the lawn in case of landmines and to beware of provocateurs trying to damage the place.

“Welcome to Ukraine,” he said as people shuffled by.

Elite security forces

Guarded just hours before by elite security forces, the property — the scale of which had been kept a closely guarded secret and appears to confirm suspicions of titanic corruption — was now under the control of anti-Yanukovych activists, patrolling the area and keeping people out of buildings to avoid looting.

According to official declarations, Yanukovych’s salary as president was around $100,000 a year. The luxury of the estate clearly showed wealth far beyond that.

At the entrance a sign was hung reading: “People, do not destroy this evidence of thieving arrogance.”

Inside, visitors peered with disbelief through the windows of the palatial main house at the baroque, marble-covered living rooms decorated with gold icons and suits of armour.

PICS: Protesters have a snoop around ousted president's stately home
1 / 12
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Protests

    Source: AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

A few boxes strewn around on the marble floors hinted at a hurried exit.

Amused or enraged, others posed for photos in font of towering faux-Greek columns and snapped pictures on their mobile phones of the collection of rare pheasants imported from as far as Mongolia and Sumatra.

In a hangar-like barn, families stopped to pet the goats, deer and sheep kept in pens lining the leader’s private zoo. Nearby, peacocks strutted around inside cages.

For kilometres, visitors strolled along the waterfront promenade, up to the helicopter pad or over bridges and past horse paddocks to a vast garage housing a museum of Soviet military vehicles.

Stately home

The complex for staff — who were nowhere to be seen — was itself the size of a British stately home.

“That house, that garden, that luxury,” mechanic Viktor Kovalchuk, 59, as his wife shook her head in amazement.

“It should be turned into a hospital or an orphanage or something for the people killed or injured in the protests,” Kovalchuk said.

“Whatever happens it needs to be given to the people. It was built with our money after all so it should serve us in the end.”

© – AFP 2014

Background: Ukraine parliament votes to oust president >

Read: The text of the deal to end crisis in Ukraine >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (62)