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Vyshhorods'kyi district, Ukraine

Mezhyhirya Residence

Marvel at the excessive luxury of the ousted Ukrainian president's former estate. 

About 12 miles outside of Kiev is the former private estate of Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, which now stands as a monument to the excessive luxury of unchecked power.

The unbelievably lavish mansion was abandoned when Yanukovych fled to Russia in the wake of bloody protests following his government’s unpopular decision to strengthen ties with Russia instead of the European Union. Activists flooded (but did not loot) the newly unguarded property to see its long-suspected opulence for themselves, a disturbing contrast to the poverty of many Ukrainians.

The estate was transferred back to state ownership that spring, and was officially a museum by the end of the year. The central feature is the luxurious “Honka” clubhouse. Yanukovych decorated the house and property with outlandishly decadent possessions, including a piano modeled after the one from John Lennon’s “Imagine” video, personalized brandy, a private zoo, an antique book that is likely the first book ever printed in Ukraine, a vintage car and motorcycle collection, a 3D movie theatre, countless paintings and sculptures, and ornamental duck houses.

A replica of a Spanish galleon, which has a restaurant on board, sits in the property’s pond, nicknamed the “palace on the water,” and there is also a gazebo, a guesthouse, and a giant sculpture of a horse. The property is now a very nice park accompanying the museum.

For nearly a millennium, the land of the Mezhyhirya Residence was home to a monastery. Following that it briefly served as an artistic commune, and in 1935 it became a regular state-run residence for political and military leaders. Yanukovych first moved onto the property when he became Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2002, and gradually increased his ownership of the surrounding lands and buildings, transforming them to fit his lavish lifestyle.