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Yanukovych's Hunting Residence Stripped Bare

Located 40 kilometers north of Yanukovych's infamous presidential estate Mezhyhirya, his hunting residence has sat unsupervised since the fall of 2015 (photo from spring of 2014).

Marauders have looted the hunting residence of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to the point where scarcely anything remains, aside from three chairs, a sofa, and four tables.

"It was broken into. In one place a glass door was broken with a boulder," Denys Tarakhkotelyk, who checked in on the property on a whim, told Ukrainian TSN television. "They took everything from the house starting from expensive electronics to toilets -- even electrical sockets."

Besides the main lodge, thieves looted the adjoining two servants' houses and a sauna complex from which marauders even stole the "veniky," the traditional Russian birch-branch sauna accessory. The only building that was left mostly untouched was a small church.

Located 40 kilometers north of Yanukovych's infamous presidential estate Mezhyhirya, his hunting residence has sat unsupervised since the fall of 2015, when the Kyiv-2 Battalion that guarded it was dispatched to eastern Ukraine. This apparently opened the door to thieves.

"Clearly, this wasn't done in a week," said Tarakhkotelyk, who supervises Mezhyhirya and other properties tied to former government officials. "A group looted on a large scale. Others just picked things up, maybe locals, maybe somebody else."

Tarakhkotelyk said he discovered the break-in a week ago. His team had been guarding the already looted summer residence of former Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka, which is situated nearby, and decided to check Yanukovych's hunting residence as well.

Tarakhkotelyk said he reported the break-in to prosecutors, but police only came two days later. The officials sealed the buildings and appointed around-the-clock security to supervise the premises. The Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case.

The land surrounding the property, which the Ukrainian prosecution prices at 7 million hryvnyas (approximately $257,000) belongs to the government. However, the buildings themselves officially still belong to their owner.

The situation is the same with Yanukovych's main residence, Mezhyhirya. Technically, it still belongs to the Tantalit company, one of the assets Yanukovych and his entourage used to allegedly embezzle funds.

Journalists and activists famously first discovered the ostentatious tastes of Yanukovych on the 130-hectare presidential residence the day after he fled Kyiv for Russia in 2014 amid violent protests across the country. Mezhyhirya quickly became a popular tourist destination, often called a "museum of corruption," with security and an entrance fee.

Ukrainian activists now say the Prosecutor-General's Office itself is at fault for failing to seize such properties and prosecute those involved in Yanukovych's corruption schemes.

"Nothing was done," Daria Kalenyuk, executive director of the Anticorruption Action Center, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. "Only a year after Mezhyhirya was opened it was seized. The property is losing its value, it somehow appears at auctions in London."

"The current prosecution did not and does not want to resolve this."

About This Blog

Using regional media and the reporting of Current Time TV's wide network of correspondents, Anna Shamanska will tell stories about people and society you are unlikely to read anywhere else.

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