In what was perhaps one of the most unexpected effects of opposition leaders taking control of Kiev and ousted Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych fleeing the capital, citizens finally got a chance to see what was inside the mythic presidential compound. Thousands of Ukrainians descended on the presidential compound outside Kiev, and happiness with what their revolution had achieved mixed with shock as they saw how Yanukovych lived. Channel 4’s Matt Frei has one of the best descriptions of the day:
We headed down there and came across what looked remarkably like a swelling Saturday family outing. And yes, they were going to the zoo but it happened to be the president’s private zoo that had, until today, been kept a very well-guarded secret, together with all the other opulence of Villa Yanukovych. I have never seen anything like it.
The crowd that gathered to size the high security walls of the presidential compound, only completed four years ago at a cost of what must have been many millions, had no idea what awaited them on the other side. The supersized mansion built in a style that could best be described as Swiss chalet brutalism, occupied a position on top of the hill overlooking acres of parkland and a lake.
Check out the amazing video and pictures of Yanukovych's estate after the jump. One quick point, though, on what makes these pictures so shocking is that while we’re used to hearing about the unabashed opulence of dictators, Yanukovych was a democratically elected president who only took power in 2010. Now, yes, on to the photos:
The private zoo. Peacocks of course pic.twitter.com/pLNQ91w6rF-- Matt Frei (@mattfrei) February 22, 2014
Presidential pigs in their element pic.twitter.com/vwxGSZx883-- Matt Frei (@mattfrei) February 22, 2014