KIEV, Ukraine — An eerie calm and a light mist shrouded President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s sprawling residential compound just outside the capital on Saturday morning as street fighters from the center of Kiev made their way inside, gingerly passing a wrought-iron gate and cautioning one another about booby traps and snipers.
They found none of either but discovered instead a world surely just as surreal as the charred wasteland of barricades and debris on the occupied central plaza that has been their home for months. It was a vista of bizarre and whimsical attractions on a grand scale, a panorama of waste and inexplicable taste.
They saw about a half-dozen large residences of various styles, a private zoo with rare breeds of goats, a coop for pheasants from Asia, a golf course,
I think you can see the golf course under construction on Google Maps. Enter “Novi Petrivtsi,” then switch to Satellite view and look for the big dirt construction site in the forest west of the reservoir. Private golf courses are extremely hard to hide these days.
a garage filled with classic cars and a private restaurant in the form of a pirate ship, with the name “Galleon” on the stern.
One man in the 31st Lviv Hundred, the small band of antigovernment militants that took control of the compound, hung a Ukrainian flag on a lamp post. A few dozen others walked about, seemingly dazed by what was happening. Some raised their clubs, pipes and bats into the air and yelled, “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Glory to its heroes!”
Whether it was the toppling of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines or of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, the breaching of the presidential palace gates is a milestone of a revolution. But Kiev on Saturday was unusual in one sense. There was no sacking. The opposition unit that took control of the president’s complex, called Mezhigorye, kept it intact, at least for now. On Saturday, the president fled, and the presidential guard melted away. But members of the Lviv-based “hundred,” who had repeatedly confronted Mr. Yanukovych’s security forces on the streets, posted guards around his residential compound and prevented looting even as swarms of gawking Kiev residents strolled through its grounds.
The reason, the street fighters said, was to preserve evidence of the ousted leader’s lavish lifestyle for his prosecution. …
Autocrats seem to have a propensity for private zoos, and Mr. Yanukovych’s palace complex contained multiple enclosures for exotic animals. …
The complex extended well over a mile along the river and was immaculately landscaped with hedges, lawns and birch trees, and a golf course of graceful swales, sand traps and pools of crystalline water.
Even as the crowds grew, there was no sign of looting.