The High Court of Ukraine on Jan. 17 held another hearing regarding the Tereshchenko Mansion case. It concerns a protracted ownership dispute over the unique 19th century property in central Kyiv. Again, the judges failed to make a decision and announced a postponement to Jan. 31.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Tereshschenkos were one of the most prominent and successful Ukrainian families.  Descended from Cossack nobility from the Hlukhiv area in today’s Sumy region, they made a fortune producing sugar and were known for their philanthropy, cultural and educational activities, and pro-Ukrainian orientation.  One of them, Mikhail Tereshchenko was foreign minister in the short-lived Russian Provisional Government in 1917.  Their property was confiscated by the Bolsheviks.


The Coat of Arms of the Tereshchenko family. Photo: Wikipedia.

The current owner, the company Centrelevatormlynbud, has been sued by the Kyiv City Prosecutor's Office at the initiative of the Tereshchenko Legacy Foundation headed by Michel and Olena Tereshchenko. Michel is the grandson of Mikhail Tereshchenko.  Born and raised in France, he returned to Ukraine in 2003 to restore the legacy of his illustrious family and save their buildings from destruction.

Back in 2007, the company Ukrnafta won a tender for the restoration of the Tereshchenko Mansion. Before becoming nationalized, 42 percent of Ukrnafta shares belonged to Igor Kolomoisky. Later, the package was transferred in an illicit scheme to Centrelevatormlynbud whose co-founder, Timur Mindich, handed it over to Kolomoisky's business partner. Prosecutors submitted all relevant case materials to the court.

Despite restoring the property as originally declared, the company has instead presided over its apparent dilapidation. Almost all the windows are broken, the roof is gone, young trees are growing out of some of the floors, and the walls are cracked. No restoration or repair works have been undertaken there in 14 years. 

Concerned activists turned to law enforcement agencies several times but no resulting action was taken. Even the land under the building was illegally sold during Viktor Yanukovych's presidency. The current owner already has reconstruction design blueprints which envision a fourfold enlargement of the original building. At the same time, Centrelevatormlynbud denies neglect of the mansion.


"If we win the case against the high-handed builders and the municipality reclaims the building, it will be the first case of a historic building in Kyiv being saved from being used for a new construction," Michel Tereshchenko told Kyiv Post in a comment. "After it becomes a communal property, we plan to open a Museum of Tereshchenko Family Benefaction there."  


From left to right, Marichka Palamarchuk, Michel Tereshchenko, Olena Tereshchenko after the court hearing. 

Photo: Marichka Palamrachuk.

Tereshchenko’s spouse Olena, who chairs the Tereshchenko Legacy Foundation, said: "Dishonest construction companies are watching this exemplary litigation very closely, waiting for an outcome. So far, none of them have actually been held accountable. So far, they have been getting away scot-free with their schemes, appropriating the city's precious buildings and constructing shopping malls or apartment blocks in their place."

Olena Tereshchenko added that the Tereshchenko Mansion once played a very important role in establishing Ukrainian statehood. She praised the Tereshchenko family's significant contribution to Ukraine's development, having built many hospitals, museums, churches and schools and helped Ukrainian artists.


"What are we fighting for on the front lines when the internal enemy is destroying what the best sons of the nation are dying for? The Kyiv community needs to save everything and not be indifferent to this case," she said.

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