Today I attempted to enter Yanukovych’s house even though it is indefinitely closed by the government. They want to investigate what was found there and make preparations to turn it into more of a museum for those interested. It took an hour to drive there and I spent twenty minutes trying to get let in. Other people also came and argued with the guards – even when we tried together, the answer was still ‘no’… Under the old government, you could do and get almost anywhere even if it was against the law. The most common ways were name-dropping, bribing and threatening.
Access Denied was made possible thanks to the grant I received from the Prague Freedom Foundation to report on the Ukrainian Euromaidan Revolution in March 2014.
Today I attempted to enter Yanukovych’s house even though it is indefinitely closed by the government. They want to investigate what was found there and make preparations to turn it into more of a museum for those interested. It took an hour to drive there and I spent twenty minutes trying to get let in. Other people also came and argued with the guards – even when we tried together, the answer was still ‘no’.
I was very disappointed because I wanted to see the house I read so much about. But on my way home I realized that there is something very positive about what happened today. Under the old government, you could do and get almost anywhere even if it was against the law. The most common ways were name-dropping, bribing and threatening.
But the new government made bribes strictly illegal. This new law is constantly mentioned on news and radio stations. People are doing what they can to be as different as possible from the old government. Even less important laws are being taken extremely seriously. People finally want change and are actively making it a reality.
I still have a hard time imagining Ukraine functioning completely without bribes. In the past even going to the doctor used to require it. Healthcare stayed free even after Communism ended, but if you wanted a guarantee that the doctor would examine you properly you needed to bring: chocolates, alcohol and money as “a friendly gesture”.
I will still try to make phone calls to see if there’s any legal way for me to get into the house, but what I witnessed today showed me that Ukraine really is changing.
Here’s an article with pictures and a video of his house: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2568468/The-spoils-corruption-The-opulent-valuable-downright-gaudy-artefacts-former-home-ousted-Ukrainian-president-Viktor-Yanukovich.html
Originally published here: https://olenakaguiukraine2014.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/access-denied/
This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
“It is clear that the deputies here today don’t want Ukraine to split apart, for half of Ukraine to fall away.” As I listened to the deputies in Verkhovna Rada, Hanna Mykolayivna Herman really stood out to me. She is a member of the Party of Regions and Vice Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations. Until recently she was also very close to Yanukovich and acted as his advisor since January 2013.
She had supported Yanukovich since she became his spokeswoman Prime Minister in 2004. But after he fled but still announced himself as the legitimate president, she ceased speaking to him and for him. She remains a member of the Regional Party but her ideals are shared by many deputies from a variety of political parties. She received a lot of supportive applause at the parliamentary session on March 13th and she got a lot of attention from the press.
She stressed that that Ukraine must show the world that it is strong and must act on what is happening. “We need to look for protection within the Ukraine instead of externally.” Herman believes that the international community will lose interests in helping Ukraine if they see that Ukraine isn’t trying to help itself and if it’s perceived as weak.
Her other important point was that the government must finally answer certain questions to prove to the people that the government can be trusted. These questions include:
Who really shot at the people at Maidan?
Who really poisoned Yushchenko?
Who really killed Georgiy Gongadze?
“If you as the new government won’t give answers to (these questions), then it means that they were staged. It means that all of this can’t be believed,” Herman says. She also believes that deputies in the parliament shouldn’t be allowed to work simultaneously in the executive branch of the government. Working for both leads to corruption and doubt about the legitimacy of the bills passed. “We must understand, that if we are building a law-abiding nation, we cannot begin building it by breaking the law.”
There is a really great English-language website that explains the backgrounds of deputies and other Ukrainian politicians and shows all the promises they made and whether they were or weren’t fulfilled. Here’s the link to her profile (please note that her name is spelled differently based on whether it is translated from Ukrainian or Russian):http://en.slovoidilo.ua/person/German-Anna-Nikolaevna.html