In recent days, probably everyone has seen the pictures circulating on the internet about the expelled Ukraininan President Yanukovich’s dacha in Mezhigorye, glamorous and tawdry beyond bounds. The history of the dacha, called “the museum of corruption” by Ilya Varlamov, is especially nice, in that it stands on the territory of one of the most ancient monasteries and spiritual centers of the Kievan Rus, the Transfiguration Monastery, founded in 988 and demolished in 1935, and which in 2007 was transferred by secret presidential decree to Janukovich.
Now, however, it has turned out – writes Dmytro Gnap, a blogger of Українська Правда –, that Yanukovich has not only stolen Ukraine’s money and land, but also its history. The activists of the Right Sector doing the inventory of the dacha yesterday showed him a box full of old books.
The works were the first and most valuable Ukrainian printed books, stolen on the order of Yanukovich from the safes of various state museums. Their genuineness is beyond doubt, as a detailed description and certificate by L. Khaukha, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Book and Printing Museum, was enclosed with each volume.
The first volume, for example, was the Apostol, the first Ukrainian-language book printed in 1574 in Lwów by that Ivan Fjodorov, whose statue, as we have shown, stands in the middle of the antiquarian fair of Lemberg, holding the 1581 Ostrog Bible in his hand.
But Gnap has also seen such priceless pieces of Ukrainian book history, as I. Hizel’s Great menaion of 1680, M. Slozka’s Apostol of 1654, or the Evangeliary of 1704.
“Nowadays the ancient prints of Kiev which survived wars and Russian censorship, natural disasters and the burning of the Lavra library in 1772 and 1849, are considered great rarities”, writes the Ukrainian encyclopedia of book history. “Now ex-president Yanukovich is also included in the list of the catastrophes they have survived”, adds Gnap.