Europe

Ukraine's Elite: Living in Luxury, All Across Europe


Visitors walk in front of the Mezhygirya, the luxury residence of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, near Kiev on Feb. 24

Photograph by Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images

Visitors walk in front of the Mezhygirya, the luxury residence of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, near Kiev on Feb. 24

To the annals of dictator chic, let us now add Mezhyhirya, the over-the-top mansion near Kiev that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych called home until a few days ago. The private zoo, the gilded drawing rooms, the fleet of vintage cars—all this in a country whose average monthly income is less than $500. But Yanukovych wasn’t the only Ukrainian official living in splendor on a seemingly modest government salary. Here are some others, identified by Ukrainian journalists and anti-corruption activists:

Mykola Azarov. The former prime minister has a mansion in Vienna and flew there aboard a private jet hours after his resignation on Jan. 28, the Austrian newspaper Kronen-Zeitung reported. On Feb. 2, anti-Yanukovych protesters demonstrated outside the house, as shown in this photo on the website planetputin.com.

Boris Kolesnikov. A former deputy prime minister and close ally of Yanukovych from the ex-president’s home region of Donetsk, he built a sprawling country estate in Ukraine. According to an article in Komsomolskoya Pravda in Ukraine, Kolesnikov published these photos of the property on his Facebook (FB) page in 2012 because he was tired of dealing with gawkers and paparazzi. The property was valued at 95 million hryvnia (about $8.7 million at today’s exchange rate).

Igor Sharov. A Party of Regions parliamentary deputy, he owns a waterfront villa in Spain, according to this blog posting by journalist Sergey Leshenko of the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. Aside from photos of the property, the posting shows a copy of official documents showing that Sharov and his wife are the owners. The couple also owns an apartment in Barcelona, Leshenko reports.

Sergey Klyuyev. A Donetsk native, Party of Regions parliamentary deputy, and board member of Ukraine’s central bank, Klyuyev appears to own a mansion in Austria, according to this report on the website of the Anticorruption Action Centre, a Ukrainian nonprofit group. The report shows official records indicating that the property is owned by a company that’s located at the same address as a solar energy business owned by Klyuyev that has received large subsidies from the Ukrainian government.

The most opulent dwellings of all, though, belong to the oligarchs, Ukrainian business leaders who have amassed fortunes since the breakup of the Soviet Union:

Rinat Akhmetov. The country’s richest man, with an estimated $12.5 billion fortune,  bought in 2011 what was then reported to be the most expensive apartment ever sold in London. The Knightsbridge penthouse cost £136 million ($226 million).

Victor Pinchuk. The Ukrainian industrialist and philanthropist, with an estimated $3.5 billion net worth, also has a London pied à terre. Wife Elena Franchuk spent $133 million in 2008 to buy a five-story Victorian villa in Kensington.

Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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