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Inside the Once Secret 'Palace' of Viktor Yanukovich

With former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on the run, curious citizens and journalists treated themselves to a tour of his luxurious and now vacant residence near Kiev.

Located in Novi Petrivtsi (an hour drive from the capital), the once heavily secured, 345-acre estate was opened by his detractors over the weekend. Visitors discovered a golf course, helicopter pad, live animals, statues, and a five-floor mansion.

Yanukovich has a working-class background. So the opulence of his new digs took visitors by surprise. One man, while touring the grounds, told Reuters, "we did not expect anything like this," adding, "it really is too much for one person. It's very emotional when you see something like this."

Another said, "a normal person doesn't build this sort of stuff."

Yanukovich bought the first piece of land on what became his massive estate in 2010, turning it into a secret palace of sorts that only family and close friends (as well as thousands of security guards, according to locals) were allowed to enter.

An arrest warrant was issued for mass murder against the fugitive president this morning by Ukrainian authorities.

People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)


People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


A man holds a bottle as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


A man stands inside a lavatory on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


Anti-government protesters react on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)


A man takes pictures on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on a helipad at the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


A man plays golf as on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)


A man takes a picture of a golf bag on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)


Anti-government protesters and journalists look at ostriches kept within an enclosure on the grounds of the residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


An anti-government protester takes pictures on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)


Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


A man poses for a picture on the grounds of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich's residence outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)


A man takes pictures on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


Anti-government protesters gather by the entrance to the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


People walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich outside Kiev February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin) 


Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence, February 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)

Keywords: Ukraine, Kiev

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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