When Viktor Yanukovych was driven out of power and he fled Ukraine, people discovered he had left with a lot of loot.They also found a lot he couldn’t take with him.
As long-dated monuments to Lenin were toppled in anger, the wealth found in his home outside Kyiv struck many.
The average salary in Ukraine is 300 euros per month. The president had his own zoo, golf course and helipad.
With Yanukovych and his guards gone, hundreds of ordinary Ukrainians were able to see his private residence now reverted to state ownership, the Mezhyhirya estate.
Under the strict supervision of former opposition activists, precious trappings and objects remained undamaged and in place.
Ukrainian journalists are going through thousands of papers, some of them partly burned, others fished out of a lake.
Some reports say they include plans for the use of even deadlier force than was unleashed on protesters last week. Yet most of the documents had to do with spending.
Journalist Oleksandr Akymenko said: “The documents are very valuable. They could help prove corruption schemes used by Yanukovych personally, his team and his inner circle. They contain lots of data linked to various companies close to the residence and to him.”
The home of the prosecutor-general who was one of the president’s most trusted officials was also exposed to the public gaze, offering evidence of similar opulent living, and fuelling rancour over corruption implications – more fine furnishings, gold, crystal chandeliers, polished marble, exotic woods.
The people studying the former president’s records said more would be put online soon; some already have been, on the website Yanukovych Leaks, in the interest, one activist said, of helping to bring him to justice on charges of crimes against humanity. But for the moment, only a small percentage of Yanukovych’s secret papers have been analysed.