Ukrainian journalists take regime’s corruption public with YanukovychLeaks

Mar 3, 2014
No Comments Yet

YanukovychLeaks.org is a new website created by Ukrainian journalists to publish documents that were found in Victor Yanukovych’s residence. Many of them document evidence of massive corruption of the regime.

After former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych fled Kiev in the wake of escalating protests, regime violence and major reshuffles in Parliament, one of the things he left behind was his massive, opulent residence on the outskirts of the capital, Mezhyhirya. The palatial estate soon opened its doors to protesters, journalists and ordinary citizens, who wanted to see for themselves how their President had lived.

But among the many grandiose buildings and signs of an excessive lifestyle (a zoo! a galleon ship! a golf course!), journalists and activists found a more important treasure – reams of paperwork on the estate, blacklists of journalists and activists, and financial records. Some of them were half-burned, others dumped in the water of the Dnieper river and the Kyiv Sea on the edge of the land.

Journalist Oleksandr Aronets, now famous for his endless live streams from Euromaidan, was one of the first to spot the papers in the water:

Katya Gorchinskaya, a journalist for local English news outlet Kyiv Posttweeted about how the documents were rescued:

As the documents were rescued and set to dry, a group of journalists came together swiftly to start photographing and cataloging the newly discovered information, to preserve it for future investigations. Katya Gorchinskaya posted this photo of some of the work:

Later, Sergii Leshchenko, a journalist from Ukrainska Pravda, known for his investigations of Yanukovych’s property, including Mezhyhirya, posted a photo of more documents drying in the sauna on the premises:

As the journalists worked, they posted select findings on social networks – like these outrageous finds from Katya Gorchinskaya and Christopher Miller of Kyiv Post:

A group of journalists from English-language Ukrainian newspaper Kyiv PostUkrainska Pravda and several other media realized that the treasure trove they were looking at needed to be preserved at all costs – so they decided to cooperate in the documentation, preservation and cataloging of everything – and to report later.

They also cooperated with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a consortium of investigative centers from Europe to Central Asia. The result of their quick thinking is a website called YanukovychLeaks, which currently houses the growing collection of photos and scans of the documents found at Yanukovych’s estate. Katya Gorchinskaya tweeted happily about the new arrangement:

Local and international journalists also expressed their excitement at the new website. Maxim Eristavi, journalist and editor of a local radio station, thought the site would be popular:

Global Investigative Journalism Network also tweeted about YanukovychLeaks andreported in-depth on how the Ukrainian initiative came together:

New York Times The Lede blog also ran a story about the project:

On February 25, a member of the YanukovychLeaks team, Natalie Sedletska of RadioLiberty, reported on the massive traffic to the new website:

Besides the main website, YanukovychLeaks.org, the team also created a Facebook page, inviting other journalists and citizens to collaborate and follow their work.

This article originally appeared on Global Voices, and has been republished here under a Creative Commons license.


About the Author

Tetyana Lokot, Global Voices Online

  • Twitter feed loading...