While ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych is being tried in absentia for high treason, camping was set up at his former hunting residence. The status of land remains uncertain. Report DW.K to the Dnieper-Teterevsky forestry – an hour by car from Kiev on a perfectly flat road. Nowhere are there such high-quality roads as those that lead to the residence of current and former officials. In the middle of the forestry area is a high fence. Behind it – “Sukholuchye”, hunting grounds for the “chosen” from the environment of ex-president Viktor Yanukovych. Where there used to be heavy security from special forces, travel is free today.
“Hunting branch” Mezhyhirya “
Since the Soviet times, the nomenclature rested and hunted in Sukholuchye. In 1967, the then First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine Vladimir Shcherbitsky chose this place for himself. And in 2004, the territory of the hunting grounds was taken over by Viktor Yanukovych, who was at that time the Prime Minister.
After the first fence, this very exemplary road through a dense forest of 7-8 kilometers leads to another three-meter fence. Behind him is the ex-president’s personal hunting residence, which is now hiding from justice in Russia. Here, on the site of the modest old hunting house of Shcherbitsky, Yanukovych built a two-story wooden mansion “Acacia”.
And later, when the circle of friends-hunters of the ex-president expanded, not far from Acacia he built another elite complex – the so-called “Island”, surrounded by water. The central object was a luxurious wooden house, similar to the one in Mezhyhirya.
Sukholuche: 30 hectares under the tutelage of activists
The total area of two former estates of Viktor Yanukovych and his friends, who are located in the territory of “Sukholuchye”, is about 30 hectares. These lands have been seized in criminal cases. In 2016, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (GPU) transferred the estates along with the main residence of Yanukovych Mezhigorye to the custody of the public organization National Park of Ukraine Mezhigorye. It includes former representatives of the Maidan Self-Defense.
The security takes 50 hryvnias for entering the territory of the residences. “If you want to stay here for a few days with a tent, then we will provide 200 hryvnias per day from the tent, we will provide water and firewood,” explains security guard Dmitry. These are “charitable contributions” for which the public organization currently contains “Sukholuchye”, explains the chairman of the public organization Denis Tarakhkotelik.
According to him, up to 3 million hryvnias are needed per year to maintain and protect an elite residence. Now in “Sukholuchye” annually collect no more than 150 thousand. “There are very few tourists here. Many do not know that the residence is open to visitors. Therefore, it has to be financed from the “charitable contributions” of Mezhyhirya. People go there more actively. But in vain, because “Sukholuchye” is very good, ”says Tarakhkotelik.
Breathtaking views open from the pine forest on the banks of the Kiev Reservoir. Willow embankment, tame deer, goats, roe deer who freely walk through the forest, lakes with fish, clean air and silence, filled only with the twitter of birds. Now, instead of senior officials, ordinary Ukrainians can celebrate a birthday or a wedding in a gazebo by the water, where members of the hunting VIP club used to gather, or book an excursion to a luxurious wooden house in the Ostrov complex.
Yanukovych’s residence plundered by “patriots”
The interior of this Finnish log house is designed as a large floating vessel with internal balconies in the form of captain’s bridges and masts. In the center of the hall is a huge table for 18 people, three chairs, a sofa, a fireplace the size of a man’s height and a huge wrought iron chandelier. And that’s all that remains of former luxury. Other expensive furniture, appliances and finishes have disappeared.
“We came here in May 2016. Before that, a battalion “Kiev-2 ″ stood here before being sent east. It is not known to them who was and looting, ”Denis Tarakhkotelik explains. According to him, everything that is now in the residence, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine recorded in the act of acceptance of the property for storage of his public organization. And since then not a single thing, he assures, has disappeared.
The security chief of the residence “Sukholuchye”, a participant in the hostilities in the Donbass, appears as his military call sign “Mikhalych” and notes that the volunteer battalion of the patrol service of the special police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine “Kiev-2” left the territory of the residence suddenly, without warning of his departure. And for some time, “Sukholuchye” was completely left without protection.
“On the one hand, patriotism, and on the other, looting. Generally does not fit in the head. But it was precisely their own “patriots” who robbed. Tiles were peeled off, toilet bowls, kitchen, cables, destroyed the irrigation system. They brought out everything that could be taken, ”lists Mikhalych. In the house “Acacia” the situation is better. Most furniture and appliances, and even tableware, remained there.
Now the “Mezhigorye National Park of Ukraine” from the “charitable contributions” of visitors is gradually restoring the residence’s infrastructure – street lighting has been repaired, the lawns have been partially repaired, a mini-cafe has been opened for tourists in the residence in the former fisherman’s house, and a camping site has been arranged in the forest.
Yanukovych escaped – the hunt continues
Camping under the tutelage of activists operates on the territory of the former residence of Yanukovych inside the hunting grounds. But this is only 30 hectares out of 30 thousand. The rest of the territory is not guarded by anyone. Huge lands are still formally leased by the hunting club “Cedar”.
Its founders, according to the registers, are people from the entourage of the fugitive president: ex-deputy prime minister, now the leader of the Opposition bloc Yuri Boyko, ex-head of Ukravtodor Vladimir Demishkan and ex-chairman of the Cherkasy Regional State Administration Sergey Tulub. Cedar still exists. They still shoot at the site, although we do not know who is hunting there right now. We control only the residence, ”adds Denis Tarahkotelik.
Until now, the legal status of the residence has not been determined. The Department of Special Investigations of the Prosecutor General’s Office has already sent a criminal indictment to the court against the former head of the Kiev regional state administration Vera Ulyanchenko, director of the Dnieper-Teterevsky forestry enterprise, director of LLC Lesnik, and 16 other people. They are all accused of illegally seizing together with Yanukovych and in his interests state-owned property on an especially large scale, in particular, a land plot in the Sukholuchye land.
“The land plots at Sukholuchye were registered for these people. We submitted this case to the court in 2016, but so far it has not progressed. After that, Attorney General Lutsenko took away from our department an investigation of Yanukovych’s economic crimes, so it’s not yet known how it will end, ”said Sergey Gorbatyuk, head of the GPU special investigation department, DW.
National park or estates for new elites?
Activists fear that, due to the uncertain status of the former residences, the Sukholuche may be in the hands of the previous owners after some time. “I will pack up and leave, not a problem. But I would like to have a national park here, and not someone else’s estates. Where can people relax here? And here is such an infrastructure, a contact zoo. I wanted this to remain so for people, to tell my grandchildren later that we didn’t let the new “masters of life” put up a fence here again, ”says the head of the residence’s security with bitterness.
At the same time, activists do not lose hope of creating a national park in the residence. The immediate plans of the former self-defenders are to organize a scout camp or create a rehabilitation center in the Sukholuchye for combatants in eastern Ukraine.