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Mezhyhirya Residence

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The Mezhyhirya Residence (Ukrainian: Межигір'я, [mɛʐɪˈɦʲirjɐ] Mežihìr’â) is an estate in Ukraine where Viktor Yanukovych lived when he was Prime Minister and then President of Ukraine and is now a museum displaying Yanukovych's luxurious lifestyle. Yanukovych lived in the estate from 2002 to 21 February 2014, when he fled the country during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.

Contents

Map of Mezhyhirya Residence, Kyivs'ka oblast, Ukraine

The estate was founded as a monastery that functioned off-and-on until closed in 1923 by the Bolsheviks following the establishment of the Soviet Union. From 1935 Mezhyhirya was a state government residence, first under the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and then under an independent Ukraine, until 2007 when it was privatized. In 2012 the State Administration of Affairs rented a space from Tantalit for 99,691 hryvnia per year, arranging it for official receptions. In 2014, it returned to state ownership.

The estate is over 140 ha (350 acres) and is situated on the banks of the Dnieper river (Kiev Reservoir) in the village of Novi Petrivtsi, Vyshhorod Raion. There is a yacht pier, an equestrian club, a shooting range, a tennis court and other recreational facilities as well as hunting grounds. The estate also has an automobile museum displaying some of Yanukoviche's former exotic cars, a golf course, an ostrich farm, a dog kennel, numerous fountains and man-made lakes, a helicopter pad, and a small church. The entire 140-hectares complex is enclosed by a five-meter tall fence along the 54 km (34 mi) perimeter.

The lease of 1 ha (2.5 acres) in Mezhyhirya for Yanukovych cost 314 hryvnia per month (2010) which was about $39.57 according to the exchange rate. Internet newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda in its investigation published a number of documents that confirm a link between those organizations-tenants, family members of Yanukovych and his entourage.

Another, perhaps even more luxurious residence was under construction near Cape Aya in Crimea at the time Yanukovych was ousted from office. Journalists call it "Mezhyhirya №2".

History

Until April 10, 1786, the space now occupied by the modern residence was inhabited by the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery, the establishment of which is attributed prior to the period of princely epoch in Kiev, which was liquidated by the Russian Imperial edict of Catherine the Great. A year later, the monastery was set on fire, supposedly on the order of the same Catherine the Great. Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko wrote about the incident: "As tsaritsa with Nechesa walked around Kiev and the Mezhyhirya Savior she set on fire at night". At the end of the 19th century the monastery was restored as a female monastery called "Intercession of the Saints", but in 1923 was once again closed by the Bolsheviks. During 1923–1931 the monastery building was used by as a college for ceramic production. Former cells of the monastery became occupied by a commune of artists-monumentalists. In 1931 the college was moved to Kiev. At the same year the iconostasis of the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery was destroyed.

Mezhyhirya is also the former summer house of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's leaders since 1935. During the occupation by Nazi Germany, it was a residence of the Reich Commissar Erich Koch in a palace of the Kiev Military District commander Iona Yakir. Before its privatization by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych (at that time Prime Minister of Ukraine), the residence belonged to the State recreation complex Pushcha Vodytsia.

Transformation into private property

Stepping into the post of Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2002, Viktor Yanukovych received free of charge building #20 with an area 325 m2 (3,500 sq ft) in the residence from the Fund of State Property. On April 1, 2003 Viktor Yanukovych rented building #20 and 3 ha (7.4 acres) of land through the mediation of Donetsk Charity Fund "Revival of Ukraine". By the agreement, the rental price was 3.14 hryvnia per month for a period of 49 years for the purpose "implementation of measures for the promotion of national and international programs aimed at improving the socio-economic status".

Stepping out of the post of Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2005, Yanukovych received another building, #20-a.

In 2009 Yanukovych claimed to have full ownership. He has not revealed the price he paid for the property, instead calling it a "very serious price".

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych chose it as his residence after he won the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election. This ownership was contested. Serhiy Leshchenko, of Ukrayinska Pravda, has claimed Yanukovych owned more of the estate than he claimed, and that he managed to do so through a complex ownership structure via a network of international holding companies that ultimately comes back to a firm called Tantalit, run by a lawyer close to the Yanukovych family, Pavlo Lytovchenko. The estate's level of luxury and the reconstruction of a road to it spawned controversy within Ukraine.

Transformation into museum

On 21 February 2014 the police units that had guarded the residence during Euromaidan withdrew and protesters were able to enter it. Following that, thousands of Ukrainians went to visit this luxurious palace and park for free, after Yanukovych moved to Russia on 21 February 2014. Activists of Automaidan took care of the residence from the moment it was abandoned by security forces and turned it into a public park. On 23 February 2014 the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution on the transfer of Mezhyhirya (as a recreational complex of Pushcha-Vodytsia) to state ownership. It returned to state ownership via court action on 25 June 2014. Since mid-November 2014 the estate is a museum.

Former owners (2009 - 2014)

  • Tantalit, LLC (Ukrainian: ТОВ "Танталіт")
  • Charitable Fund "Revival of Ukraine" (Ukrainian: Благодійний фонд "Відродження України")
  • Renters

    The State Administration of Affairs rents an office in the residence.

    Security services

  • Berkut, State Security Administration (UDO) – security
  • State Auto Inspection – road blocks, traffic restrictions
  • Ground Forces of Ukraine (An anti-air mobile fire team of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was deployed on a breakwater in the Kiev Reservoir in December 2012.)
  • In November 2011 "UkrAeroRukh" made Yanukovych's part of the Mezhyhirya residence a no-fly zone.

    Club house (Honka)

    The main feature of the residence is the so-called "club house", also known as "object Honka" (after the Finnish company Honka). The building is located on territory belonging to the charitable fund "Revival of Ukraine".

    During 2009 and the first half of 2010, materials worth 76 million hryvnia ($9.5 million) were delivered, for renovation of the house.

    In 2010, speaking before the German public in Berlin, Viktor Yanukovych actually refuted his previous statements that he had nothing other than his house on the territory of "Mezhyhirya". Speaking that in his personal life he prefers "German quality", he noted: "It's no big secret to anyone... I built one such house, a club house... It was built by "Honka", a Finnish company..."

    Barge

    According to Ukrayinska Pravda, a reception house was designed for Viktor Yanukovych in 2011, based on a barge that was brought to Mezhyhirya and moored in the inner harbor (50.622619°N 30.470602°E / 50.622619; 30.470602). Officially, it is registered to the company Tantalit. The length of the "palace on the water" is around 50 m (160 ft). The windows are decorated as round portholes.

    As reported by Ukrayinska Pravda, the barge has a personal office and a hall for receptions. The "palace" is decorated with wood of valuable species, gold leaf, marble and crystal. In the niche of the ceiling of the main hall, there are three chandeliers, the price of one of which was estimated by Ukrayinska Pravda at $97,000.

    Books

    A journalist at Ukrayinska Pravda found various "ancient treasures of Ukrainian literature" in the residence on 25 February 2014, including the alleged first printed book in Ukraine (dating from 1654) by Ivan Fyodorov.

    360° panoramic photos of Mezhyhirya

    A group of photographers made a series of 360° panoramic photos outside and inside the buildings in Mezhyhirya on 11 March 2014, available on the website of the German political magazine Der Spiegel.

    References

    Mezhyhirya Residence Wikipedia


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