In Sebastopol criminal investigation opened against former officials of Chersonesus Taurica national reserve suspected of fraud in alienation of historical heritage lands

Sebastopol investigating bodies of the Russia’s Investigative Committee have launched a criminal investigation against former CEO of Chersonesus Taurica national reserve Leonid Marchenko, former head of cultural heritage security of Sebastopol administration Svetlana Shevchenko and head of Arkheopolis enterprise Sergey Yutkevich. All of them are suspected of a fraud on a very large scale (part 4 of article 159 of the RF Penal Code).

Investigators have revealed, that in 2002, head of Arkheopolis developed a scam involving him, CEO of Chersonesus Taurica and head of cultural heritage security of Sebastopol administration in alienation of the reserve’s lands to make them private property. Chersonesus Taurica national reserve is the only well-preserved historical and cultural complex presenting lifestyle and agriculture of the V-Iv centuries B.C. The decision to alienate lands of historic heritage could be made by only the supreme state body responsible for cultural matters – at the time the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture. However, bypassing the higher authority the CEO of Chersonesus Taurica concluded trilateral agreements with Arkheopolis and citizens or legal entities who wanted to get the lands: the enterprise ran archeological study of the lands, while the leadership of the reserve in accordance with the agreements issued illegal permissions for alienation of the lands, head of cultural heritage security of Sebastopol administration signed scientific conclusions that became bases for land surveying documents.

In all, over 24 ha of the lands housing archeological monuments and which were part of Chersonesus Taurica national reserve were illegally passed over to the private ownership as a result of culpable actions of the said officials. Most of the people involved in the scam gained illegal benefit on a large scale.

The investigation was opened based on the checks ran together with officials of economic security department of the Federal Security Service and Sebastopol prosecutor’s office.

This is not the first and won’t be the last criminal investigation in squandering state property in Crimea. The Russia’s Investigative Committee is going to do a tremendous amount of work to restore law and justice which for over 20 years while this beautiful land was in temporary ownership of Ukraine were defied by local merchants and oligarchs, often involving Kiev authorities of different levels.

Head of Media Relations                                                                                                                            V.I. Markin