Temecula, CA - We may wonder what Barack Obama gets for being the hood ornament on our Big American Ford, since he is nigger-riche or nouveau riche, depending which side of the aisle you sit as a corporate ruler in the plutocracy that was once a democracy that started out a republic. My, how we have grown up in the world. Some of us make our real father proud.
But this here ain't no place for drinking, this here is a place for thinking. I think we should look at how and why Natasha's grandson [Remember Boris?] fared well in the Ukraine.
Ukraine's fugitive former president Viktor Yanukovych said Wednesday he had never seen [the] golden loaf of bread found in his presidential estate and denied allegations of corruption and massive personal spending of treasury funds.
The golden bread, solid gold bricks in the shape of a loaf, was found on a table in one of the rooms in Mezhyhirya, Yanukovych's 350-acre mansion in northern Kiev. The object has become a symbol of the alleged corruption and affluent lifestyle of Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine and is in Russia.
"Even some of the supporters have turned away from him so he has lost lots of the kind of the support he had in Ukraine," said Mariya Omelicheva, director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Kansas.
"He is perceived more like a corrupt, ousted leader not just ousted. He is a leader who cowardly left the country," she said.
Nearly two months after protests in Ukraine forced Yanukovych out of office, journalists are still investigating allegations against him. Much of the best evidence has come from Yanukovych's house.
When people entered Mezhyhirya just hours after Yanukovych left the country in February, they uncovered 150 folders of documents. For the next nine days, the country's 10 top investigative journalists worked day and night to restore 23,000 documents that traced the procurement of the estate's construction and its maintenance.
Those journalists said they hope their investigations will lead to a prosecution.
"I hope these documents will be the foundation for quality prosecution (of Yanukovych) that will be convincing," said Vlad Lavrov, regional coordinator of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Kiev Postwriter.
Lavrov was startled by the large sums spent on constructing and decorating the estate in a country where the average monthly salary is around $325. Documents evaluated the estate's assets at around $180 million, including lavish Spanish furniture, a floating dining hall in the shape of a pirate ship, a massive greenhouse [wink, wink, nod, nod].
One of the receipts found in Yanukovych's home showed a purchase of 32 chandeliers in 2010. The most expensive one, the chandelier for the main hall, cost $11 million. A year earlier, seven tablecloths were purchased for $12,712.
"Huge sums were paid to German firms for the wooden panels and ornaments that were everywhere in the house," Lavrov said. "Those ornaments only cost approximately $2.75 million per room."
Besides the main house where Yanukovych had lavishly decorated rooms and his own church, the former president owned several guest houses, garages, a boat shed, a golf course, a spa complex and a wooden ship used for parties.
On Wednesday, Lavrov's team was about to finish uploading the last portion of the scanned documents to the YanukovychLeaks website. The group is publishing a series of reports based on the documents.
"This should be a warning for future governments," Lavrov said. "No matter how much they try to hide it, their secrets will come up sooner or later."
Oleh Shymko from Kiev was among the first Ukrainians who saw Yanukovych's estate after he fled. Later he came back to lend the journalists two professional scanning machines from his printing company free of charge.
"It's the epitome of corruption," Shymko said. "It really shows how much they sensed their impunity. The floats of black cash were unbelievable."
Lavrov said one of his lasting impressions of the former president's home was how it blended his obsessions for arms and hunting with his fondness for the Orthodox religion. Yanukovych had a room dedicated to exhibiting bullets, while religious icons in golden frames were dotted around the palace.
In an interview with the former president Wednesday, Yanukovych said he was "wrong" to have invited troops to Crimea and called the situation a "major tragedy." He said that the Russia takeover would never have happened had he stayed in power, adding that he is planning to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get the annexed region back.
Analysts say the interview and statements on Crimea are an attempt by Yanukovych to bolster his image in the Ukraine, as he may still harbor hopes of returning to the country.
"He still hopes to probably return to Ukraine ... I don't think he wants to reside in Moscow," said Omelicheva. "He is kind of building a case or restoring his legitimacy in the eyes of the Ukrainians by broadcasting all over the Ukraine that he is regretful of some of the decisions."
Meanwhile, tensions between the West and Russia have remained. On Wednesday, the European Union and United States said they would seek to obtain gas elsewhere for the Ukraine, as gas prices from Russia to the country spiked. But analysts say these attempts may not have a huge impact.
"The US and the European Union are discussing ways of channeling some gas to Ukraine from Slovakia and Poland," Omelicheva said. "But the capacities are very limited. They would only be able to supply a very small amount of energy that is not going to be able to satisfy the Ukrainian demand."
Luigi Serenelli in Berlin; all emphasis - Ed