This photograph depicts a protester attempting to rescue financial documents thrown into the river near former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s opulent estate, shortly after he fled the capital, Kiev. The following day, Ukrainian Members of Parliament voted to oust president Yanukovych from government. Some of the retrieved documents show that Yanukovych spent millions of dollars on furnishings and decorations for his former residence, the Mezhyhirya mansion, estimated to have cost more than $75 million USD. The Ukrainian public has long been suspicious that Yanukovych and his family were wrongly profiting from his control of the country as his annual presidential salary was approximately $100,000 and his annual salary prior to his presidency was approximately $24,000. Other documents retrieved include an anonymous receipt for a $12 million USD cash transfer, dated September 2010, about seven months after Yanukovych took office. In diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, U.S. officials described the Yanukovych government as “a kleptocracy.”
The Allard Prize Photography Competition jury selected this photograph as an illustration of the challenges of identifying and combatting corruption when there is a lack of transparency in government spending.
Andrey Lomakin is a photographer based in Kiev, Ukraine. He worked as a staff photographer at Tyzhden magazine from 2008 to 2014 and is now working on personal documentary projects.