Friday, February 01, 2008

The president's secret place

Intrepid journalist Tetyana Chornovil has being doing more snooping around the dachas of Ukraine's 'great and good'. Her target last August was Viktor Yanukovych, when she exposed his cynical and greedy abuse of office.

Now today's 'Obozrevatel' publishes details of the same journalist's investigations in the secretive "Koncha-Zaspa" district of Kyiv - the Mount Olympus of Ukraine's political elite.
An article, entitled: "The secrets of Koncha-Zaspa - part 1", includes photographs of president Yushchenko's residence, where he lives when not working. It is never been seen by 'lesser mortals'. There are no known official photographs this place.

It was built by former president Kuchma, who now lives very comfortably just a few doors away in a newly-built prestigious dacha. All of these buildings are protected by huge security walls, but Oboz reporters managed to get a look by crossing over a frozen lake. It is the electorate and taxpayers who pay for the upkeep of these places so surely they deserve to at least know what they look like, don't they?

The article compares the Ukrainian president's hidden residence with that of the president of the United States, who lives quite openly in the White House.

Similary, the British prime minister lives 'over the shop' in a rather small apartment at 10 Downing Street. If a British prime minister loses an election or resigns, a furniture removal truck arrives a day or two later, and he, or she leaves. That's it - there are no perks once you're gone.

It has been known for a Chancellor of the Exchequer [minister of finances, who lives next door at 11 Downing Street], to personally drive a self-drive hire van with his belongings away from the official residence, once out of office.

Somehow I cannot see Yushchenko behind the wheel of a truck filled with his family's stuff some day driving out of Koncha-Zaspa. The orange revolution seems a long way away.


Anonymous said...

The White House is open to the public.

Obviously, the private living quarters are not open.

But the rest of the White House is open to the public.

As far as the living quarters, Jackie Kennedy went on TV to allow viewers to see the White House.

Ever since then, various First Ladies, and Presidents, have conducted TV tours of the White House.

In Ukraine, despite the talk of democracy, there seem to be a lot of Big Heads.

You are right - the secrecy is more than just "security" of government officials at work here.

The enemy of democracy is secrecy.

I remember seeing the wife of the mayor of maskva go ballistic and apoplectic in front of TV cameras when a reporter was trying to find out about city construction contracts given to her construction company.

Noone was supposed to know anything about it.

Michelle said...

I visited the White House and it was so cool. One of the first things the tour guide pointed out to us was that we were not guests. They impressed on us that this is our home too. A home shared by the American people with whoever is serving as President. Neat concept.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who wants to can take a tour by computer:

Anonymous said...

Anyone who wants to can also go to the web site of the United States Supreme Court to see how they are handling cases:

or to the web site the US House of Representatives to track bills:

or to the US Senate to track legislation:

or to the British Parliament:

or to 10 Downing Street to take a tour or track government matters:

etc, etc, etc.