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The Museum of Corruption

The Museum of Corruption

Some friends came to visit, one each from Canada, the UK, and South Africa. Discussing their itinerary of “must see” things in Kyiv, the Mezhygir mansion came up. So one sunny day, off we went to Kyiv’s ‘Museum of Corruption’

Upon arrival, there was a wide choice of transport options, segues were 500 UAH an hour, bicycles 300 UAH for two hours, and there were electric scooters and mopeds too. The group decision (democracy in action at Mezhyhirya, that’s ironic!) was to rent bikes.

Open Home

Our next wallet opening exercise was to pay the entrance fee, 120 UAH per adult. And, we were in! This was not the first time I had crossed through these gates and entered this territory, the first time was on 22 February 2014, the day the revolution ended. That day, my wife (the owner and Editor-in-Chief of this fine publication) woke me with the words: “Yanukovych is gone. They’re opening Mezhyhirya. Get up. Get dressed. Let’s go!” To enter that much mythical place that day was euphoric and surreal. Today’s visit was a little more laid back.


Anyone who wants to do a tour of the main house enters though the fitness centre, and to mark the entrance is a chunk of pure gold shaped like a common Ukrainian loaf of bread in the window. The height of cynicism, mocking a staple food for many poor Ukrainians, this was presented to Yanukovych by one of his more-money-than-brains cronies as a birthday gift. As unofficial tour guide, I explained also that, when I first toured the house, we were told that the most valuable item that had been left after Yanukovych had spent three days sending trucks of loot to Russia was a painting valued at $4 million. Imagine a $4 million painting being the thing you’ve not got room for!

Size Matters

From the fitness centre we pedaled round to the main house: our small company of visitors were blown away by its sheer scale. More blown away too when I told them this had been designed and built essentially for just two occupants, Yanukovych, and his lady friend. They occupied separate bedrooms on the top floor, each replete with apartment-sized closets and bathrooms. From the entrance side of the house, we moved round to the ground floor under the balconies overlooking the Kyiv Sea. Had the house looked big before, now it looked massive, because, well, it is.

Flash Wheels

A long and steep path leads down to the shore of the Kyiv Sea, where bikes must be walked to stop people from getting injured. From there a pleasant seven or eight minutes at a sedate pace brought us to the Galleon, where Yanukovych used to play cards with his (equally corrupt) houseguests. And from the Galleon (where visitors will find a café and bathroom facilities) we headed next to the garage, another ten minutes by bike.

The garage contains mostly classic cars, a collection of many Soviet-era limousines, a few military vehicles, and half a dozen motorcycles. Among them sat also a brand-new Mercedes SLS ($200,000 retail price) and a Brabus tuned Mercedes G Wagen (probably worth $150,000). Most likely the most valuable piece in the collection is a 1950s Bentley, one of only 200 of this model ever produced.

Taking It All In

From the garage we swung past a guest cottage, of about 1 000 m2, and then on to a massive hill climb to bring us to the helicopter landing pad from which Yanukovych had fled about eight hours before I first entered this estate. Here, we took a much-needed break to catch our collective breath.

Back in the saddle, and now on flat roads, we soon entered what is one of the nicest parts of the property, the private golf course. Here we got the full sense of what Mezhyhirya is really about today. All over this carpet of grass, families played. Kids ran around excitedly, not knowing what their mums and dads, grandmas and granddads, had gone through to deliver them this opportunity over the winter months of 2013 – 2014.

The thing that surprised me the most on this trip to Mezhyhirya was just how many people were there, enjoying what has become, in every way, the people’s house.

Mezhigirya National Park
Ivana Franka 19, Novi Petrivtsi village
20-120 UAH

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