Right to know about controversial Presidential residence to be defended in Strasbourg
Serhiy Leshchenko, well-known Ukrainska Pravda journalist is asking the European Court of Human Rights to confirm his right to know how much the President paid for a State-owned piece of land within Mezhyhirya.
At a press conference on Wednesday Leshchenko and the Director of the Media Law Institute who are representing him explained that all such information falls under the Public Information Act. Despite this all courts in Ukraine have upheld a ruling which denied him this information.
The last ruling was the High Administrative Court’s rejection of his cassation appeal on 13 December 2012.
All avenues have now been exhausted in Ukraine leaving only the European Court of Human Rights. The chances for a successful outcome would appear high since the information sought concerns both public official and the disposal of public property. This is directly specified in the Public Information Act as information which is publicly available.
Close on two years ago Serhiy Leshchenko addressed a formal information request to the Vyshhorod District Administration asking how much President Yanukovych had paid in 2010 for 1.76 hectares in the middle of Mezhyhirya.
It is apparently this land which is directly owned by Yanukovych. The remaining 135 hectares of Mezhyhirya is leased by the firm “Tantalit” and the charity “Ukrainian Renaissance”.
The Vyshhorod District Administration confirmed that they had sold the land to Yanukovych and asserted that they had all the relevant documents, but refused to provide the purchase agreement or even information as to the price paid. They claimed that such information “concerns the right to private property and other rights and legally protected interests of another person”, as well as the ban on unlawful intrusion into somebody’s personal and family life.