The story of a land scam in Pushcha-Vodytsia

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On February 11, 2021, the draft decision on the transfer of the land located at 91a Yunkerova St. (Pushcha-Vodytsia) for construction was submitted for consideration at the regular session of the Kyiv City Council. Velychko Valentyna Ivanivna, the owner of the historic house located here, doesn’t know anything about the new “owners” of her land plot. Some of the deputies are sure that it is all legal.

Scandalous session

8 scandalous draft decisions were submitted at once at the second session of the IX convocation of the Kyiv City Council (hereinafter – KCC). All of them related to historic buildings and cultural heritage sites.

In particular, the deputies of the new convocation of the Kyiv City Council tried to push forward the draft of their predecessors on the transfer of the land plot located at 29a Lukianivska St. for the construction. The historic building located here was withdrawn from consideration by the City Council of the previous convocation after a considerable public disclosure of information related to the problem and the protest actions of the NGO “Renovation Map”.

NGO “Renovation Map” managed to save the building located at 29a Lukianivska St. in autumn

In addition, new sites have been added to the historic heritage list. Thus, the wing of 1911 located at 27b Turhenievska St. was planned to be transferred to a company associated with Taras Kozak, the sanctioned deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, and Viktor Medvedchuk.

The land plot located at 4 Trokhsviatytelska St. was planned to be transferred to “SAS” LLC in 2012, when they were going to build a multifunctional shopping and office centre here, despite the fact that the building has the current status of a monument of local significance!

Not a better fate awaits historic buildings located at 2/1 Dilova St., 5 Konovaltsia St., 89 Vyborzka St., 3 Ochakivskyi Lane, and in Pushcha-Vodytsia (91 Yunkerova St.). The fate of the house in Pushcha-Vodytsia is especially interesting, because it is not the first year that people who have never been seen by the owner of the house are trying to appropriate the land plot!

Property appropriation scheme

“In 2018, fraudsters forged my neighbour’s passport and issued a power of attorney for the sale of property using fictitious names. Contracts for sale of house and land were certificated by another notary,” – Andrii says. For the past few years, he has been helping his elderly neighbour, Velychko Valentyna Ivanivna, to defend her right to housing and land.

We visited Velychko Valentyna Ivanivna, the real owner of a historic building in Pushcha-Vodytsia, together with Andrii in order to find out how a part of her yard almost became someone else’s private property.

The owner of a historic house in Pushcha-Vodytsia did not even know that the Kyiv City Council planned to transfer its yard for building construction

“I didn’t sign anything! Any contracts, anything at all!” – Mrs. Velychko answers nervously to a direct question. She told us that she had inherited from her parents this house. When they passed away, she had to make ends meet and she began to rent out a part of the house. However, lodgers, enjoying the woman’s confidence, secretly took her passport and taxpayer identification number out of her house while she wasn’t home.

It was back in the summer of 2018. From this moment on, the kaleidoscope of events was just starting to gain momentum. “In August 2018, the house and the land were sold to a woman named Nataliia Riabchun under a forged power of attorney. For two years, we have been suing: we seized the property in order to secure the claim, conducted a handwriting examination, which confirmed that the signature was forged, and finally the court ruled in our favour!..

However, at this time the fraudsters managed to push through allocation of 1000 m2 of land owned by Velychko Valentyna Ivanivna to Mr. Vanat, who immediately resold it to a third party,” Andrii said indignantly.

Only on the day of the plenary session of the Kyiv City Council, he found out that they wanted to give the second part of the yard of Valentyna Velychko into “private someone else’s hands”. Valentyna Velychko found out about it even after the session. As it turns out, Nataliia Riabchun, whose ownership of the house and land was cancelled in court, agreed to the allotment of a new land plot at the expense of real estate located at 91 Yunkerova St. In particular, such information is contained in the draft decision on the transfer of part of Valentyna Velychko’s yard to Mr. Yevhen Pukhlytskyi, about whom, according to her, she is hearing for the first time.

The position of deputies

The story of the transfer of land in Pushcha-Vodytsia caused no less controversy in the session hall. However, the deputies’ discussions less dealt with the very essence of the issue. So, Konstiantyn Bohatov, a deputy from the Voice faction, noted that if the land plot is free from building development, this issue should be removed and submitted to the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) Veterans Council for its consideration.

Konstiantyn Bohatov: “The draft decision should be withdrawn”

Vladyslav Turets (the European Solidarity Faction), on the contrary, insisted on the current consideration of the issue. “These people came to me for an appointment. These are ordinary people who are allotting a plot of land… Don’t look for something there… for something that you are worried about. This land plot is allotted at the expense of the neighbouring estate and there is a notarized consent from the owner for this man,” Turets responded to the statement made by Bohatov. “They came to me for an appointment. They are ordinary people. I am asking to support this issue because this is an absolutely social issue,” Turets insisted.

According to the results of the voting, the issue of transferring the land plot to Velychko Valentyna Ivanivna failed by one vote. However, deputies tried to return to the discussion of this issue after having considered several other issues, but again there were not enough votes to make a decision.

Vladyslav Turets: “I am asking to support this issue… They came to me for an appointment. They are ordinary people”

Already after the vote, when the story of land fraud in Pushcha-Vodytsia began to spread actively on Facebook, Vladyslav Turets asked to provide him with information “for further study of the issue” and promised that this issue would not be voted on yet.

How to deal with such decisions and what to do?

The UA-Times journalists asked one of the deputies who did not support the scandalous draft decision of Kseniia Semenova (the Servant of the People faction) about how such decisions get into the session hall and how the community can effectively deal with them.

“I was sincerely surprised at how actively they brought the decisions on land to the vote. In addition to the objects that the [NGO] “Renovation Map” takes care of, the agenda included the issues of privatization of land plots by citizens whose right to privatization is not very clear,” says Semenova, a deputy of the City Council.

Kseniia Semenova: “The city needs a comprehensive program of renovation of historic buildings”

According to Kseniia Semenova, one of the main reasons why such questionable decisions are brought to the vote at the City Council session is the rapid pace of the adoption of such decisions: “Many deputies are not ready to vote for decisions that cause outrage among experts and the public, or for the adoption of which there is no 100% legal basis. However, the agenda is formed quickly and it includes many issues”.

At the same time, Semenova emphasizes the importance of conveying the opinion of the community, since explanatory notes to draft decisions do not always reflect complete and objective information on a particular land plot: “Deputies objectively need help to understand the issue because the devil is often in the details. For example, the decision spells out a permit for the reconstruction of the stadium, but in fact it turns out that a residential development is already listed in the comprehensive territory plan. Or as it happened to the real estate located at 91 Yunkerova St. The land department insists that everything is legal, but it turns out that the owner of the land plot claims that her signature on the documents is forged. A detailed expert analysis of the issue and a public outcry greatly help to prevent the council from making rash decisions,” the city councilwoman sums up. She is sure that the problem cannot be ignored, and the city itself needs a comprehensive program of renovation of historic buildings that will help to conceptually change the approach to the protection of cultural heritage.

Read also: “New Land Commission – the same result: rent in garden squares, historic buildings allocated for development

Translated by Anna Voronina

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