— GIJN (@gijn) February 25, 2014
A group of Ukrainian journalists spent the weekend working to preserve “tens of thousands of documents” that were dumped in a reservoir behind the abandoned estate of fleeing Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, Drew Sullivan reported Tuesday for Global Investigative Journalism Network.
The reporters then did something remarkable. They made a decision to cooperate among all the news organizations and to save first and report later. It wasn’t an easy decision. But it was clear that if they didn’t act, critical records of their own country’s history could be lost.
The group, Sullivan reported, reached out a few other groups for help and soon took over a boat house where documents could be separated and dried. By Tuesday, about 400 documents were posted on YanukovychLeaks, with thousands more expected.
Ukraine is, in many ways, an ideal place for this to happen. A feisty press has had their skills honed by years of reporting on secretive governments, corruption, and offshore ownership. Over the past 20 years, the Ukraine media has built an impressive tradition of investigative reporting. A half-dozen small investigative centers are alive and well around the country. Backed by groups like the Regional Press Development Institute and Western donors, Ukraine’s independent media even hosted the 7th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in 2011, bringing some 500 muckraking reporters from 75 countries to the heart of Kiev. “The gutsy Ukrainian press has taken naturally to investigative reporting,” says David Kaplan, director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. “What you’re seeing is the result of years of training, networking, and reporting under very tough conditions.”
William Booth reported Tuesday in The Washington Post about the sprawling estate and aftermath. Booth wrote that, in addition to seeing the golf course, Spanish ship and surprisingly well-decorated former home of Yanukovych, protesters there were also quite well-mannered.
To begin with, I have never experienced a more orderly and polite mob than the one that surged through the gates at ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s vast compound.
I have seen more unruly gangs at Epcot Center.