Documents dumped in reservoir by fleeing Ukraine leaders recovered
Someone wanted the records to disappear without a trace under the gray waves of the Kyiv Reservoir. Instead, they are ending up on the Internet for everyone in the world to see.
When ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage were fleeing the lavish presidential residence at Mezhyhirya, outside of Kyiv, on the night of February 21-22, they dumped hundreds of documents into the reservoir in an amateurish attempt to conceal the information they contain.
But journalists and scuba divers showed up on the scene just hours later and began recovering the soggy papers. Some were floating surreally along the edges of the water; others were recovered in stuffed file folders from the depths.
For the last three days, a group of journalists and criminal investigators from the post-Yanukovych government has been working to dry out the papers and the first 500 have now been photographed and placed on a special websiteYanukovychleaks.org for all to see.
According to the website, the trove includes nearly 200 folders of documents, although the exact number of pages is unknown. The 500 pages posted so far are only a small fraction, not more than two percent, of the total.
So far, it appears that the papers mostly tell the sordid story of the pompous Mezhyhirya estate itself - how it was questionably privatized by murky companies that now can likely be traced to Yanukovych and how it was remodeled and appointed at great expense. Other documents tell similar tales about Yanukovych's Sukholuche hunting lodge and other presidential retreats.
Many of the records seem to relate to cash payments ranging up to millions of dollars. One document from September 2010 apparently records the transfer of $12 million in cash for an unknown purpose.
According to Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya, who is among those working on the documents, Yanukovych emerges "as an ugly man who ran both his home and his nation like a medieval fiefdom."It will give the world a better understanding of what led to the revolution. It also points to how fragile this corrupt regime turned out to be. The despots who are on the run will have trouble resurfacing within Ukraine and those harboring them will have a difficult time explaining why they should be protected from paying for their crimes against the people of Ukraine.
There are also "blacklists" of Yanukovych's antagonists, including journalists, Femen activists, and members of Ukrainian nationalist organizations.
Journalist and activist Tetyana Chornovol, who miraculously survived being abducted, beaten, and left to die on a freezing December night, was among those whose dossier was found at Mezhyhirya. Yanukovych's police at the time dismissed the incident as "road rage."