UK & World News

  • 23 February 2014, 14:47

Luxury Revealed As Yanukovych Flees Palace

Shock, disgust and anger were just some of the emotions filling Ukrainians as they took in their deposed president's grand estate.

A sign hanging outside the entrance read: "People, do not destroy this evidence of thieving arrogance."

Thousands wandered around in amazement as they took in the trappings of Viktor Yanukovych's breathtaking luxury presidential palace, now under the control of anti-government activists after he fled on Saturday.

A private golf course, a zoo, a floating banquet hall resembling an Elizabethan galleon, a helicopter pad, ponds, statues and a greenhouse are just some of the features of the 345-acre compound.

Rare pheasants imported from as far as Mongolia and Sumatra were discovered, Australian and African ostriches roamed the grounds, and peacocks could be seen strutting about.

Half the size of Monaco, the vast country estate is only an hour's drive from the capital Kiev, but for those wandering around its waterways and summer houses it felt like another world in a country where the average wage is less than 300 a month.

Retired veteran Natalia Rudenko said: "I am in shock. In a country with so much poverty how can one person have so much - he has to be mentally sick.

"The world needs to see this and bring him to justice."

Many posed for photos, keen for something to remember a defining moment in their nation's history.

Some came from Independence Square, the focal point of the protests that forced Mr Yanukovych to flee.

Bogdan Panchyshin, a hardware store owner still wearing a bullet-proof vest, said: "It makes it feel even more worth it. If only the hundred people who died could see it, I think they'd say the same."

As for what should happen to the mansion and its sprawling grounds, some Ukrainians suggested it should become an orphanage.

Others say it should be turned into something for the protesters who have given up their lives to ensure that the man who once professed to be on the side of Ukraine's poor is certain to never return there.

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