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Mystery river documents prod Ukraine investigators

Ukrainian journalists investigate documents dumped in river

Dozens of Ukrainian journalists are scrambling to preserve thousands of documents discovered dumped in a river that runs next to the former president's palatial estate, in hopes of finding evidence of wrongdoing by the ousted leader.

"This means that we have the original proofs, proven facts that we can reveal the truth, reveal the corrupt system or misuse or fraud and money laundering and other stuff," Oleg Khomenok, an Ukrainian investigative journalist, told CNBC on Tuesday. Khomenok coordinates Scoop, an organization that supports journalists in Eastern Europe, Russia and elsewhere.

Journalists are investigating thousands of documents found in a river near and also within the palace that belonged to the ex-president of Ukraine.
Source: CNBC
Journalists are investigating thousands of documents found in a river near and also within the palace that belonged to the ex-president of Ukraine.

The former president, Viktor Yanukovych, was impeached last weekend and fled the capital of Kiev. He's wanted by authorities because he is blamed for ordering the shooting deaths of scores of protesters last week. It's widely believed that his administration was rife with fraud.

Now that he's gone, thousands of Ukranians have descended on the grounds of his home, which include not only a large house but a zoo, a spa and other expensive amenities.

(Read more: Ukraine's ousted president wanted for mass murder)

Divers discovered more than 100 three-ring binders filled with documents that had apparently been dumped in a river running alongside the property.

Journalists are investigating thousands of documents found in a river near and also within the palace that belonged to the ex-president of Ukraine.
Source: CNBC
Journalists are investigating thousands of documents found in a river near and also within the palace that belonged to the ex-president of Ukraine.

In a massive, volunteer effort, journalists have carefully separated the stuck-together pages and begun drying them. After initially using huge heat fans donated by the national library, volunteers discovered a more efficient tool for the job: the heated floors in the guest house sauna. They're photographing documents and posting them at yanukovychleaks.org.

(Read more: Ukraine Parliament removes president, who flees Kiev)

Khomenok claimed that volunteers already have uncovered documents that indicate evidence of large cash payments and possible wrongdoing.

—By CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Follow her on Twitter @MCaruso_Cabrera.

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