YanukovychLeaks is a group investigating the documents found in Mezhihirya. Fleeing a popular uprising against his corrupt misrule and pro-Moscow policies, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych departed Kiev in early 2014. At his estate outside the city, he left behind thousands of documents that his staff had tried to destroy by dumping them into a nearby reservoir. Aided by volunteer divers and activists, an impromptu group of journalists rushed to the scene and systematically rescued what amounted to 50,000 once-secret documents. Sensing the importance of what they had found, the group quickly formed the YanukovychLeaks investigative project, preserving the documents, posting them online, and launching a series of hard-hitting reports on the disgraced leader’s corrupt practices and abuse of power.
The team rescued nearly 200 folders of documents with details on the former president’s activities. YanukovychLeaks had a dramatic effect on the media in Ukraine. Like Watergate, which motivated a generation of American reporters, the project has helped define a new generation of Ukrainian journalists. Aggressive, motivated, and distrustful of authority, they are holding the new government to a higher standard. Citizens have higher expectations of media, and the government better understands now it must treat journalism with more care than it has in the past.