In an interview aired on June 28 on several leading Ukrainian television channels, President Viktor Yanukovych gave a tour of his notorious Mezhyhiria estate located north of Kyiv.
But he showed only a tiny part of the 135-hectare, multi-million-dollar luxury-filled and safely guarded compound which he first promised to show more than one year ago. He showed a 1.7 hectare territory where he claims to reside, ingoring and not explaining who owns and what is located on the rest of the territory.
In yet another and troubling sign of how loyal top television channels have become under his leadership, a half dozen television journalists handpicked for the interview by Yanukovych’s press service failed – at least in portions of the interview aired – to ask about or request to see the rest of the compound.
These select journalists, including political talk show stars Savik Shuster, Evgeni Kiselev and Oleksandr Tkachenko, were chosen instead of a group of journalists that have for more than one year called upon Yanukovych to show them his estate.
Aired versions of the interview lasted about two hours.
Conducted in Ukrainian and Russian language days ago, the interview started off with a tour of a 1.7 hectare portion of Mezhyhiria which, according to documents, belongs to Yanukovych. Yanukovych appeared to admit to owning the estate, but controversy has long haunted him over how it was legally acquired and where he got the money to develop it.
The inside of a house was decorated with what looked like expensive furniture. Just outside journalists were shown a newly constructed swimming pool, sauna and wooded area where Yanukovych claimed to exercise (See photographs in Ukrainian language Ukrainska Pravda report).Journalists were also shown picturesque landscape that included an artificial waterfall.
A more formal sit-down interview later commenced under a rotunda that overlooked the pool area and a nearby, well-kept garden.
During the interview, none of the journalists asked about the larger 130-hectare area of the Mezhyhiria territory which can be clearly viewed via satellite photos and is seen to be not only adjacent, but appears to be part of the same integrated compound. According to reports, it is owned by a web of domestic and offshore companies that have been linked to Yanukovych’s family and close associates.
The territory includes a massive, multi-levellog cabin and Yacht club which is located along the so-called Kyiv Sea, a huge lake created by a damn that restricts flow of the Dnipro River further down to Kyiv.
According to reports by the respected Ukrainska Pravda website, the territory also includes an indoor tennis court which Yanukovych supposedly uses. Construction of a golf course also appears to be underway, according to Ukrainska Pravda.
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