Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site with profit for his family. Part 2

Julia Dub, Yaroslav Hulan, "Worth Knowing", the Investigative Journalism Bureau for СorruptUA.org  22 May 2015 12:43  74799519 3100513
Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site

How did the municipal land, where the parking lot was equipped, become private?

A gift to the mayor at the end of the cadence. Deputies do not object

On February 28, 2006, members of Uzhgorod city council have a meeting and, among other things, traditionally consider land issues. There are more than ten of them on the agenda, all relating to the privatization of parcels. The chairman - then and current Mayor Victor Pogorelov - suggests to vote for all land issues in one package. And most deputies supported it.

 

 
 
Valeriy Levko
Oleksandr Doktor (current deputy)
Zoltan Žofčák
Mykhailo Mehesh (current deputy)
Serhiy Oleksiyuk
Oleg Luksha
Oleksandr Solontay
Anatoly Synyshyn
Pavlo Meshko
Bogdan Terenyak
Svitlana Vashchuk
Mykhailo Zozulynets
Volodymyr Symulyk
Natalia Timchenko
Vasyl Hyndryuk
Ivan Vandzhurak
Nadia Petrishka
Yulianna Bed (current deputy)
Petro Trachuk
Oleksiy Kindrat (current deputy)
Stanislav Ponomarev (current deputy)
Pavlo Myhovych
Serhiy Slobodyanyuk
Yuriy Belyakov (current deputy)
Mykola Moysyuk
Yosyp Adam
Tibor Zombor
Stepan Brokhun
Robert Levitsky
Victoria Tarakhonych (current deputy)
Yevhen Napadiy

One of the adopted land decisions - №868 - concerned the parking lot on Hoyda street bordering the historic quarter. That is, 28 of these 33 deputies and the mayor - without consulting the electorate, without announcing public debate, on behalf of more than one hundred thousand Uzhgorod residents - decided that the long-term parking lot in area of 4,222 square meters should belong not to the community, but to the private company "Relief." It was then - the last day of winter in 2006 - when the deputies finally took away the parking lot from Uzhgorod community.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (7-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

The then government wasn't even considering the option of selling this piece of land publicly. For example, through an open auction. Everything was done behind the scenes.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (28-ILYUSTRATSIYA (1))
This piece of valuable land in the center of Uzhgorod was sold without any public bidding. Illustration from the service google.com.ua/maps

Moreover, the company "Relief" for some unknown reason was granted a privilege - to pay only 30 percent of the set price - 413,000 UAH. The rest of the price was to be paid in installments.

A year earlier - at a time when the country was going through the Orange revolution - Uzhgorod city council entered into an agreement with the "Relief" on the lease of the parking lot for 5 years. It was February 1, 2005. And a year later, the tenant was "graciously" allowed to buy the land. In fact, this lease was the ground for the sale without auction.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (13-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
A juicy piece of land became a private property of the "Relief." Illustration from the Public cadastral map of Ukraine

So why was the city government so generous to the "Relief"? It's simple - the company is owned by the family of the mayor. Now, according to the State Register, the small enterprise "Relief" has become the "Relief-7" LLC. The founder and the director of the company is the wife of the then and current Mayor - Lyubov Pogorelova.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (8-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (9-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

At the time of the sale of the parking lot, one of the founders of the "Relief" was now late father-in-law of the mayor - Antoniy Belushak. The company's registered address is Pogorelov street, 3a. This address is legal residence of several organizations belonging to the property or sphere of influence of Victor Pogorelov's family.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (10-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
The building at Pogorelov st., 3a. The family of the mayor registered different firms at this address. Photo made by the author

 For example, the son of the Mayor Andriy Pogorelov, a deputy of the city council, founded the free newspaper "Ungvar" through which he campaigned in the parliamentary elections.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (11-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

The founder of the propaganda newspaper was the PE "Ungvar Town" also registered at Pogorelov st., 3a.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (12-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

We have appealed to the Mayor of Uzhgorod, to cover his stance on the events described. Victor Pogorelov refused to talk tete-a-tete. But he suggested to answer the questions in writing. So here are the written comments that he gave through his assistant.

"In the 1980s, the land on Hoyda street, where a storage of bulk materials had been situated previously, was granted to the firm "Relief" for permanent use - the mayor explained. - The company made ​​a fence and all the infrastructure necessary for parking lot at its own expense. Later, after 10 years of use, the "Relief" filed an application for purchase of the land. Since the enterprise, by investing the funds, had made considerable improvements on this land, it had preemptive right to purchase the land, especially as there were no other applications to purchase the land plot."

The mayor believes that the sale price was profitable: "The company paid for the purchased land approximately 100 UAH per square meter, which at that time, given the exchange rate, brought considerable revenue to the city budget."

As you can see, the mayor stressed that the "Relief" had invested money in the infrastructure - that is, in the asphalt and the fence. But it should be noted that in the 1990s. it was a paid parking lot. So, we can assume that the money invested were quickly returned to the parking lot's owner. It is also strange that in 1980s - the period of the Soviet Union - the municipal land was just like that granted for use to a private firm. After all, in the Soviet Union there was no private property as such. Probably, personal connections hepled - the father of the current mayor was an influential person in Uzhgorod political establishment at that time. And the company "Relief", according to the State Register, was registered in autumn of 1990.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (25-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

The family also received the land around the public parking lot 

In the Public cadastral map of Ukraine you can see that around the main territory of the former parking lot, there is a 0.1759 hectares plot in the shape of a "horseshoe", under the cadastral number 2110100000:03:001:0224. This is a piece of land which, as seen in the Cadastral map, partially takes up the area where trees grow.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (14-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
Illustration from the Public cadastral map of Ukraine

At the meeting on October 24, 2013, the deputies adopted the decision №1113, by which this urban area was allowed to be sold to a citizen Antoniy Belushak. As mentioned above, he was the now deceased father-in-law of the mayor. As can be seen from the Cadastral plan - annex to the decision, the main area of the parking lot was then, in 2013, also registered for the mayor's father-in-law.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (19-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
The cadastral plan of the land plot on Hoyda street

At the meeting of deputies in 2013 Victor Pogorelov did not deny that the land was to be sold to his family.

When considering this issue, one of the deputies - Victor Shchadey - stressed that it was allegedly the green zone. Victor Pogorelov was indignant and said that Shchadey had "personal enmity" with him. He added that the family had bought the parking lot 8 years ago and anyone could park there for free. The mayor was convinced that the parking lot was his personal thing.

So, the deputies by the prevailing majority of votes - 47 cards "for" - allowed to sell the land to the father-in-law of the mayor.

 
Bohdan Andriyiv
Andriy Bahanych
Vasyl Badyda
Yulianna Bed
Tetyana Bereha
Yury Belyakov
Victor Bobita
Rostislav Bulanov
Mykhailo Bulyna
Fedir Vashchuk
Ivan Voloshin
Yaroslava Hasynets
Oleksiy Hetmanenko
Vasyl Homonay
Serhiy Horban
Mykhailo Danch
Oleksandr Doktor
Vira Khmenyak
Maria Zilhalova
Oleksiy Kindrat
Petro Kindyukh
Anatoly Kovalsky
Oleksandr Kovacs
Tetyana Kozak
Ivan Kolodiy
Svitlana Korol
Yuriy Kostyuk
Vasyl Kruchanytsya
Zoltan Kulin
Yelizaveta Lyakh
Victor Martin
Yuriy Mandych
Mykhailo Mehesh
Volodymyr Mylyo
Stepan Nimchuk
Yuriy Oksyon
Bohdan Patskan
Andriy Pogorelov
Stanislav Ponomarev
Mykhailo Roshko
Taras Rumyantsev
Vitaly Semal
Mykhailo Stankovich
Fedir Sokhanych
Victoria Tarahonych
Olga Travina
Serhiy Travnytsky
Zoltan Torych
Viktor Feyer
Mykhailo Churilo
Pavlo Chuchka
Yaroslav Shafar
Hryhoriy Shevchuk
Victor Shchadey
Vadim Yaktsivsky

47 of these deputies voted "for". And the decision №1113 causes suspicion. First, the city council carefully concealed the cadastral number of the parcel in the published decision. Perhaps to minimize the number of people knowing where exactly the sold territory is located.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (16-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

Secondly, the document states that allegedly there is unfinished construction on the plot. Journalists repeatedly walked aroung the fence and found no construction in progress. Indeed, what kind of construction is possible in this area, given its geographical configuration - along the fence in the shape of a "horseshoe"? The only thing we saw was a metal kiosk on a concrete foundation.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (20-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
Metal kiosk is the only "real estate" on the territory of the parking lot. Photo made by the author

In this case, once again the buyer - the late father-in-law of the chairman of the City Council - received a privilege, to pay only 50% of the 367,000 UAH price upfront. The remaining amount was to be paid in installments. Before selling the land, deputies gave permission to perform its evaluation. This is stated in the decision №596 of June 20, 2012. At that time, the Law "On Access to Public Information" has already been enacted, and the City Council was obliged to publish the document.However, the decision was never published on the official website of the City Council.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (17-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
A lot of "land" decisions are missing on the official website of the City Council

Lease documents have disappeared

A third, small piece of land - 36 square meters - was "cut out" of the actual territory of the parking lot. When you look at the Public cadastral map, it shows the same spot where the mentioned kiosk on foundation is situated.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (23-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

In 2006, the then head of the city property policy department Victor Martin (now a deputy of the City Council elected as a representative of the Party of Regions) entered into a lease agreement on the piece land with the small enterprise "Pom-nim." Which, as it turned out, is registered at the familiar address - Pogorelov street, 3a.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (24-ILYUSTRATSIYA1)

So the address alone shows who really is behind the "Pom-nim." But what were the terms of use of the municipal land? How much did the company pay for it? We could learn all that from the lease agreement, but... It is gone. "We inform you that the said agreement is not kept at the Department of Municipal Economy of Uzhgorod City Council," - the Acting Director of the Department Oleksandr Kostenchuk said. How did the information about community property disappear from the City Council? This question will have to be addressed to law enforcement.

The family sells the parking lot for 2 million

According to the State Architecture and Construcion Inspectorate in Transcarpathian region, in May 2014, a citizen Olga Hozda became the owner of the land plot. 

In the tax declaration of the Mayor for 2014 it is stated that the wife of the mayor received 2,040,000 UAH as a result of disposition of movable and immovable property.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (26-ILYUSTRATSIYA)

We asked the mayor upfront - was that the money for the parking lot? We received the following, rather vague written answer: "Unfortunately, my father-in-law prematurely passed away and left a legacy to my wife and all that is reflected in the declaration for 2014, as required by law. The declaration is posted on the website of the City Council of Uzhgorod, it states all the income of my wife as a member of the family with whom I, as an official, live and keep house together."

Meanwhile, the representative of the builder - Stepan Hozda - confirmed that the site had been bought from Lyubov Pogorelova for approximately 2 million.

Free space is shrinking

So, as we can see, the budget received 413,000 UAH from the sale of the land with the parking lot in area of 4,222 square meters. And the wife of the mayor received about 2 million.

So nearly a million and a half - that's the difference, which could also be in the city budget, and not in the assets of the mayor's family. 

For now, the land plot is de jure a private property. The developer is preparing to work. It seems that free space in the city center will remain only in photos.

Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (21-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
Sky from this angle will soon be covered by a new building. Photo made by the author
Mayor of Uzhgorod turned the parking lot in the city center into a construction site (22-ILYUSTRATSIYA)
A new square could have been at this spot. But the construction is starting. Photo made by the author

Part 1 of the investigation is HERE

Investigative Journalism Bureau "Worth Knowing" for Corruptua.org

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Comments (3)

Ужгородец  21/06/2015 8:30 pm

а где деньги выделенные год назад на дороги? не хотите разобраться куда они делись и откуда у щадея кафешка взялась?


читач  26/05/2015 7:00 am

Поцупили бруківку, украли щемлю.
Отакоє вибрали собі на голову


левко  24/05/2015 4:56 am

Так куди ж плділася бруківка з вул. Швабської. хто її поцупив? Мабуть "великі патріоти м.Ужгорода?

Total 3 comments
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