In its Unmask the Corrupt study, the group asked the public to identify the world’s most symbolic cases of grand corruption. The campaign engaged over 170,000 people who first nominated cases, and then voted on them.
Yanukovych’s case received 13,210 votes – more than any other.
“At one stage, earning as little as $700 per month, Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych seemingly knew how to get extraordinarily rich,” says the report, released on Feb. 10. “A golf course, a private zoo and a full-size Spanish galleon replica were just some of the attractions at Mezhyhirya, the former president’s estate.”
Yanukovych, Ukraine’s fourth president, fled power on Feb. 22, 2014, in the wake of the EuroMaidan Revolution, during which more than 100 protesters were killed.
After he left the country, people from all over Ukraine came to see Yanukovych’s giant estate 20 kilometers away from Kyiv.
Yanukovych first rented the then-government owned 137-hectare Mezhyhirya estate when he became prime minister in 2002. He lost the estate after the 2004 Orange Revolution, but a year later, he regained the premiership and took Mezhyhirya back. After being dismissed as prime minister in 2007, Yanukovych remained in residence at Mezhyhirya and privatized the estate “through a series of transactions involving companies apparently controlled by close associates,” the report says.
Yanukovych built a four-story main house and other buildings at Mezhyhirya. Documents discovered after Yanukovych fled included huge bills for the mansion’s furniture and decorations.
Yanukovych’s 2005 income declaration stated he earned less than $700 per month. As prime minister in 2006, he was said to earn around $5,000 per month – still not enough to sustain his lifestyle, Transparency International said.
Apart from Yanukovych, the cases voted most corrupt were the corruption scandal in FIFA, football’s world governing body, officials of which are alleged to have taken millions in bribes, and the case of the Akhmad Kadyrov Foundation, an agency for social and economic development in Chechnya that makes up to $60 million a month while 80 percent of the republic’s population live in poverty.
The Amnesty International highlighted the nine cases of corruption that got the most number of votes online, and will apply what it called “social sanctions” to them.
The suggested measures are listed next to the selected cases on the campaign’s website. They call for people to file or sign petitions, use hashtags in social media, and make donations to the anti-corruption movement.
There is no action plan for Yanukovych yet, however, with the button beside his picture reading “coming soon.”
Kyiv Post staff writer Alyona Zhuk can be reached at [email protected]
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