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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ukrainian Journalists Launch YanukovychLeaks

Security-camera footage broadcast on Ukrainian television on Saturday, said to show the entourage of the country’s deposed president fleeing his residence.

Viktor Yanukovych may have vanished early Saturday from Ukraine’s presidential palace outside Kiev, but not without a trace. His entourage left behind security-camera images of a hasty flight from the lavish compound, and something else â€" tens of thousands of apparently incriminating documents that were still floating near a dock at the waterfront residence when journalists and curious spectators arrived.

Since then, reporters from a dozen media organizations have been combing through the sodden papers at the Mezhyhirya compound along the Dnieper River, and on Tuesday they published high-quality images of hundreds of documents on a new website they call YanukovychLeaks. It quickly drew more than a million hits, according to Natalie Sedletska, a journalist for Radio Free Europe’s Ukrainian service.

In a report for Mashable, the Kiev-based journalist Christopher Miller explained that “nearly 200 folders filled with thousands of invoices, contracts, insurance policies, cash payment orders and other documents were recovered from the murky depths. The edges of some had been scorched, suggesting that before fleeing Yanukovych had first ordered them to be burned before they were tossed into the sea.”

As volunteer divers searched below the surface for more documents, and the president’s boathouse served as a drying room, one of the journalists, Katya Gorchinskaya of the English-language Kyiv Post, has been filing regular updates on the search through the contracts, receipts and invoices on her Twitter feed.

Follow Robert Mackey on Twitter @robertmackey.