Ukrainian refugees housed on former president's estate

The refugees are among 34,400 people who have fled Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   June 24, 2014 at 3:09 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, June 24 (UPI) -- Several dozen refugees from the fighting in eastern Ukraine are being housed temporarily on the luxurious estate of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

They are among 34,400 internally displaced people in Ukraine, including 11,000 from Russian-annexed Crimea, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

For now, they reside on a 340-acre estate near Kiev that was turned over to the government of Ukraine after Yanukovych was ousted in February. On his way to exile he hurriedly left the grounds, which includes a mansion, a golf course, a petting zoo and collections including cars, military memorabilia and artwork, and until the arrival of refugees was preserved as a park and tourist attraction, with tours available for 20 Ukrainian hryvnia ($1.70).

A refugee identified only as Yelena is among 70 people living in a servant's quarters with 20 one-room apartments. She and her family of five occupy one apartment; her eldest daughter roams the grounds daily with other refugee children, taking advantage of walking and bicycle trails behind elegant gilded gates.

"We haven't really had time to joke about where we are living yet," she said, "but I guess it is kind of funny that they put us here."

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