Journalists and Community Work Together to Retrieve Documents in Ukraine

The citizens are working tirelessly alongside of journalists in Kiev to try to piece together thousands of shreds of documents that were destroyed by the Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Back in 2002, at the time that Saddam Hussein was removed from office as Iraqi’s president, for the first time, the opulence and lavish lifestyle that the former dictator had made commonplace in his world was exposed to the general public for scrutiny. The same situation is now at hand with the recent ousting of Yanukovych who also had accrued an exorbitant amount of wealth within his official elected capacity. The former leader fled his opulent estate that is said to have cost $10 million a year to operate by a staff of over 350 employees. Throughout the reservoir near the estate, numerous dossiers were found floating and professional divers recovered many containers filled with sodden files and ammunition.

Ukrainian flag

In addition to the waterlogged documentation, the luxurious home also encompassed multiple piles of shredded paper scattered around. In an attempt to uncover the truth behind the absolute corruption perpetrated by Yanukovych, the community along with reporters are recreating some of the materials to see what has been hidden from public attention.

Media workers gathered these from the estate as well as from VETEK, the vacated company of Serhiy Kurchenko, who is known to have colluded with Yanukovych to bilk billions from state holdings, and set forth a call on Facebook, seeking volunteers to help to piece together the documents. The response was overwhelming with office employees showing up on their lunch hours, students coming in after school hours and families showing up on the weekend with children in tow to help to sort and assemble the shredded files in order to try to make some sense of the devastation.
Yanukovych is under indictment for massive corruption, facing 13 criminal investigations with an expected theft of over $1 billion dollars from the state, with the wrongdoing connected to Kurchenko’s holdings in oil and gas companies. Kurchenko is 28 years old and became a billionaire virtually overnight.

Those involved in the reconstruction of the files feel that what may be exposed will reveal an immense amount about the corruption inherent in Yanukovych’s former regime. Editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project which is a consortium of eastern and central European investigative journalists, Drew Sullivan, states that these findings, once reconstructed, will demonstrate a sampling of the corruption that is within business, government and crime.

The restored documents are being uploaded to Yanukovych Leaks, which is a website with more than 9,500 documents. One of the revelations unfolding is relevant to the exorbitant spending done by the president, much which was focused on his homes which included petting zoos, tennis courts and golf course, an entertainment centre with a bowling alley, boxing ring and pool hall and even stuffed trophy lions standing on guard. There is reported to be $52 million in chandeliers and the bill for groundskeeping is estimated at over a quarter of a million dollars in one month. Documents continue to be recreated and more information is expected to be disclosed.

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