New civic duty for Ukrainians: financing Yanukovych’s Mezhygirya
As of this year, the head of state installed a remote executive office directly at his Mezhygirya residence, albeit denying any affiliation with the latter for the past five years.
This will allow the head of state to govern directly from the location where La Dolce Vitae is provided for but has been inaccessible, as he personally confessed, due to catastrophic lack of time.
As if the story of Yanukovych’s office doesn’t sound surreal enough, here comes the only available comment from Region’s Party member Vadim Kolesnichenko:
“Since we aspire to join Europe, we have to follow their suit. Downing Street is a place where the head of the cabinet lives and works. The White House is where the President lives and works” claims Kolesnichenko, making excuses for Yanukovych’s exuberant expenses.
Considerable difference between those instances and the Yanukovych case is that the abovementioned Western leaders reside in government owned properties. Neither spaces belong to or are run by private companies.
This means Yanukovych should have set up private living quarters in the Executive Building (Presidential Administration) instead of leasing a whole new office. He then would have resided at the place of work, avoided the commute alongside the aggravation to drivers who have to deal with street closures.
Instead, Yanukovych chose a completely different model – Vladimir Putin, who resides in Novo-Ogariovo, and often times doesn’t leave for the governmental offices, receiving guests and subordinates in the suburbs.
On Friday, the Presidential Administrative office published a response to the Ukrainian Pravda request regarding Yanukovych’s new work space.
The information provided by Bankova only strengthens the impression that Yanukovych feels he can do as he pleases, without any reservations. He doesn’t take pains any more to conceal his relation to the corrupt de-nationalization of the Mezhygirya property.
According to the official information given y the Presidential Administrative office, Yanukovych’s offices are leased from Tantalit Company at a rate of 8307.60 UAH per month.
The amount doesn’t reveal much. One may be surprised by such a low estimate for 128 sq m (appr. 1280 sq ft) of meticulously furnished property. When we multiply the number by 12, we get 99,691 UAH.
The fact that the contract is signed annually, not month-to-month is mentioned in the actual letter from the Presidential Administrative office. “The contract is signed until the end of 2012, with an annual extension option offered until 2020, provided budgetary appropriations are made.” Annual extension typically means that the initial contract term is also a year.
So why 99,691 UAH per year lease? Is it too much or too little?
On the one hand, a hundred thousand UAH thrown on a Yanukovych which means double pension allowance for a hundred Ukrainian retirees. In their lives that kind of money means a whole lot. May Ms. Darka Cherpak explain to them, why an extra office is leased for Yanukovych, while he has a huge Presidential Administration building at his disposal?
On the other hand, 99 thousand UAH – roughly a thousand USD per month – is way little for an office of this size and such embellishment.
We talked about a desk lamp costing just 80,000 UAH in our previous post.
Once the Presidential Administrative office published photos of Yanukovich office in Mezhygirya, the author posted a request on Facebook to identify other details of the presidential interior.
With the help from the reader Lubomyr Lozovy, we established that one single (!) chandelier from Yanukovych’s office by Spanish maker Mariner costs 80,000 USD.
Meaning, over the period of one year the lender will make up for the cost of just one lighting unit. Hence the question – why Tantalit company, that nominally owns the space asked for such a low price – 99,691 UAH?
The answer is simple: to avoid public bidding required by the law “On government contracting procedures”, Article 2 in particular.
Say, a contract amount increase by mere 310 UAH would exceed the 100,000 ceiling and ruin the entire scheme. No one can claim Tantalit to be the single available provider of space for rent. The law would have demanded a bid.
Yanukovych didn’t really need an office in Novi Petrivtsi (the township of Mezhygirya residence). He needed this particular one – fronted by some company. What was needed – the paperwork to legally use those particular offices.
Let us remind the readers, who the Tantalit Company is, the company that gets paid by the national budget to rent an office to the President. The company is a front for Mezhygirya residence ownership. The residence was de-nationalized during Mr. Yanukovych second term as the prime minister.
Tantalit’s Director and 0.03% share-holder is somebody by the name Pavlo Lytovchenko, born in 1980 in Donetsk. Today he is a regional council member for Kyiv Oblast (province), representing the Regions Party. He heads a Commission on capital construction, architecture and infrastructures.
In our previous investigations, the Ukrainian Pravda brought forth evidence that shows Mr. Lytovchenko to be a front man, carrying out interests of the Yanukovych family.
Particularly, Yanukovych’s younger son, Victor, made public his income return. The document was signed by Mr. Lytovchenko, not the President son’s hand. As we were able to determine, Viktor Yanukovych-junior signed a Power of Attorney allowing Mr. Lytovchenko to represent him.
It is entered in the National registry as No 558 dated February 17 2010. Unfortunately we couldn’t obtain the document itself. According to our information, the Power of Attorney given by Yanukovych Jr. to Mr. Lytovchenko is valid until 2013.
In December 2011, yours truly met Victor Yanukovych Jr. in the parliament building and asked to explain the nature of his relations with Mr. Lytovchenko.
Who is this person for you? – We asked the President’s son. – Why Mr. Lytovchenko has your Power of Attorney?
- Because I don’t enough time for everything – answered Mr. Yanukovych Jr.
He was visibly displeased with the question.
- Is he your aid? – We tried to clarify.
- No, not an aid. Mr. Lytovchenko is a person who deals with various legal matters. – said the President’s son.
He avoided continuing the conversation, declaring: “I don’t have time”, and left.
So, Yanukovych’s younger son publicly admitted that the person who rents an office to his father, in reality conducts “various legal matters” for their family.
Another connection linking Pavlo Lytovchenko with Yanukovych is his employment with the companies run by the older son of the President, Oleksander Yanukovych in the recent years.
Even though those episodes were excluded from Mr. Lytovchenko’s curriculum vitae as a council member, requested by us.
However, our sources provided us with Mr. Lytovchenko’s real CV. According to it he was employed by an association called Donbass Financial Clearing Center between 2004 – 2007; and co-employed by Capital Building Corporation in 2005 – 2005. Both companies belong to Oleksander Yanukovych.
Mr. Lytovchenko chose not to respond to our requests regarding his shares in Mezhygirya.
The remaining 99.97% of Tantalit are hidden offshore. Tantalitt founder is an Austrian company Euro East Beteiligings GmbH, which in turn was created by an Austrian brokerage (whose Director is currently under investigation in Vienna) and a British entity, with roots in Liechtenstein.
The scheme devised for Yanukovych’s offices lease is a carbon copy of last year’s leases of Augusta helicopter and Falcon jet practiced by the Presidential Administrative office. The moneys were transferred to a company in the British Virgin Islands, which used to be a shareholder of the Austrian owner of Mezhygirya.
This has become something of a habit for Yanukovych to burden the national budget with servicing his transportation means and real estate, starting with the helicopter and now with the office.
Overall, leasing the Mezhygirya property that already belongs to one is an example of total lack of restraint, both financial and moral.
On the one hand, Tantalit Company (in other words the Yanukovych family) has shown unbelievable generosity in leasing him offices on the Mezhygirya territory.
There is nothing else to this story aside from Yanukovych’s desire for additional comfort. That office allows him to skip going to work, and his press service claim he is working at the residence.
On the other hand, as far as intrinsic values are concerned, religious devotee Yanukovych is blinded with far more earthly matters.
It is well known that for the longest time Mezhigyria used to be a home to the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Mezhygirya monastery, ruined under the Soviets.
The official information that the sacred grounds are located on the Mezhygirya property is available on the Novi Petrivtsi township web-site.
Apparently, Mr. Yanukovych had an idea to restore them. A problem arose: the monastery grounds are now part of the Tantalit parcel. A miracle did not follow: the protector of the Constitution didn’t – or didn’t wish to – grant the monastery 2 hectares out of the total 140.
It was decided to begin the monastery restoration six kilometers away from its original location. Seriously? Seriously.
Last year the Novy Petrivtsi township council issued a permit for zoning a parcel to be used for construction of the monastery.
The council members were paid a motivational visit by the head of Vyshgorod Regional Presidential administration. Mr. Yanukovych representative came down to persuade the council after the first vote on zoning failed.
The monastery is going to be built on the territory currently belonging to Shvydko-Invest Ltd., near the gas station at the village boundary. It is a good one hour walk from the actual monastery site.
See the documentation on restoring the Mezhygirya monastery away from its historical location that is currently occupied by Mr. Yanukovych residence.
Restoring lost sights at a different location is quite a novelty.
In the same manner, the Golden Gates of Kyiv could be re-opened somewhere near the Hydropark or Mykhailiv Golden Domes – near the Volodymyrsky market. Desyatynna Church that a number of Regions Party members are so eager to rebuild could be done somewhere in the industrial zone of Podil.
What is going on with the monastery paints a good picture of habits that took over Mezhygirya.
Praying in front of TV cameras, and flying over to Mount Athos at taxpayers’ expense – that they can manage just fine. Then, placing a helipad or a hothouse where the monastery used to be…
I am not making this up. According to the Ukrainian Pravda sources, 3.5 hectares of world class hothouses are being built next to the monastery.
According to the blueprints, the hothouses will accommodate 20 climate zones including subtropics. The premise is that the food served to Yanukovych must be guaranteed organic, meaning grown on site.
Recently, the garage for a 70 car fleet was completed at the Yanukovych residence.
Last year we wrote that French experts began constructing a fully fledged golf court, a yachting marina and stables. Also last year a five story main house of the estate commissioned to Honka of Finland was completed, and a “water palace” in the Kyiv sea bay was put in.
The Water Palace is the second piece of property, after the huge main house, that is visible from the Dnieper River.
We were able to get additional details on it. This entertainment facility has been named Galeon to go along with the exterior design based on a sail ship from the Middle Ages.
This is the place for summer relaxation for Yanukovych. There is a stage, karaoke equipment, dining area, make up room and an office for Yanukovych. The finishes include high-end wood, gold leaf, marble and crystal.
The unit was custom made in Dnipropetrovsk. Mind this – we managed to discover its cost estimate, and it came with a price tag of 75 million UAH. This is just one component, far from being major, of the entre infrastructure to ensure La Dolce Vitae, that still eludes Yanukovych.
Galeon’s owner is also Tantalit. Let us not be surprised if it gets leased by the taxpayers to ensure decent downtime for the Ukrainian President.