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Ukranian Protesters Invade President Yanukovych’s Lavish Estate, Find Private Zoo [Updated]

Photo via @titaniasgarden1

On Saturday, as Ukraine’s tumultuous week drew to a close, protesters seized President Viktor Yanukovych’s office and took control of Kiev. In a televised statement from the country’s Russian-speaking East (where he fled after signing the new, restored constitution on Friday), Yanukovych called the events a coup and announced that he would not step down, even as parliament voted to oust him by holding an early election in May. ‘‘Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and bandits and a coup d’etat,’’ he said.

From the Associated Press: “[Yanukovych] said decisions made by parliament Friday and Saturday ‘are all illegal’ and compared the situation to the rise of Nazis in the 1930s. He said he would not sign any of the measures passed by parliament, which include trimming his powers and releasing his jailed arch-rival and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.”

Tymoshenko, who spent two years behind bars, left a prison hospital on Saturday morning. She gave an interview and was seen boarding a plane to Kiev. Once in the nation’s capital — where protests are ongoing — the 53-year-old Tymoshenko addressed the opposition crowd, saying, “You are heroes, you are the best of Ukraine. Until you finish this job and until we travel all the way, nobody has the right to leave,” she said. “Because nobody could do it - not other countries, nobody - could do what you have done. We’ve eliminated this cancer, this tumour.” It seems safe to assume that she was referring to Yanukovych.

Meanwhile, outside the capital, members of the opposition and some journalists paid a visit to Yanukovych’s suburban home, Mezhyhirya. The property, which shares a name with this historic monastery, once served as a summer house for the Soviet Union’s leaders and a Nazi residence during the German occupation. Photos and videos taken at the lavish estate show that no luxury was spared: There’s a private zoo, a golf course, and what appears to be a schooner. The Guardian called the chalet-style house “all a bit Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles.” You can check #Mezhyhiria to see the footage, the best of which is below:

This video shows crowds gathering at the estate. While some are surely there in protest, others might just be there for a nice Saturday outing:

Here’s that beautiful boat:

And some fancy cars:


Heaps of documents that are pulled from the water”:

The private zoo (why?) includes deer, peacocks, sheep, and these guys.

The scene was considerably less fun in the city of Uzhhorod, where protesters tied the head of the customs union, Sergei Kharchenko, to a pole:

This post has been updated throughout.

Protesters Invade Ukranian President’s Residence