The president of Ukraine is only elected for five years, but a tradition is developing that lets the highest officeholders keep their luxurious state residences long after they leave office – perhaps for life. And many don’t like it, citing the sweetheart – if not scandalous – means of presidential acquisition.
President Viktor Yanukovych, for example, shows no intention of moving out of Mezhygirya state residence near Kyiv, even as critics accuse him of illegally obtaining the mansion and use of the 140 surrounding hectares of land.
During Soviet times, Mezhygirya mansion was owned by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., foreign delegations used the place.
But when Yanukovych became prime minister for the first time in 2002, the status of the mansion was changed from “state residence” to “state dacha.” In 2003, Yanukovych’s Donetsk-based charity fund Revival of Ukraine (Vidrodzhennya Ukrayiny) rented the house and the land around it.