“Don’t Touch My Castle”: A Village Battle, A Deception Victim
“Don’t touch my castle”: a postcard village in wine-growing Burgundy mobilizes to save its 12th-century neo-Gothic fortress, fearing it will be permanently removed from the public after an unrelenting money laundering case in Ukraine will be closed for
“Not to finish the castle”; “La Rochepot rallied against the sale”; “Don’t touch my castle”… on old sheets or faded cardboard boxes, slogans greet visitors who cross the drawbridge of the glittering tiled structure at La Rochepot (Cte-d’Or).
Closed for three years after its alleged owner was arrested for money laundering, the castle on a rocky top has been briefly reopened to feature its furniture, which will be auctioned on Sunday in Beaune: From armor to copper cauldron, through Baccarat service.
For the village, this sprawl condemns a site that has welcomed over 20,000 visitors per year, an unlikely event for the 300 or so residents.
“All my clients are there to visit the castle”, summarizes Véronique Fouquerand, brewer and owner of guest rooms in the village. ” it’s a disaster “.
“La Rochepote emptied of its entrails will no longer be La Rochepote”, regrets Romuald Pauleau, former keeper of the palace and initiator of a petition that collected nearly 3,000 signatures. According to him, the village is the “collateral damage” of a case that is greater than that.
In 2015, residents heaved a sigh of relief when “their” castle finally found a taker after being on sale for three years. Its owner, former President Sadi Carnot’s successor, made the sale a condition of “total respect”.
However, this is exactly what the investors who bought the palace say for 3 million euros say they want. “Everyone believed in it”, recalls Romuald Pauleau. “They had an amazing project. And they said money is not a problem,” he told AFP.
– resurrected dead –
But the owners remain shrouded in mystery: the castle is managed by a Ukrainian resident in Lithuania and a Moldovan who works for a company in Luxembourg. In the village, a Ukrainian sometimes appears who speaks of “his” castle, but prefers to be called “monsieur” rather than giving his name.
In December 2017, the local daily Le Bien Public revealed that, in fact, the artisans hired for the “fantastic project” were never paid.
Alerted, Europol learns that this “Mr.” is a “high-flying fugitive” who declared himself dead in 2014 to “avoid justice” in his country. According to the Kiev prosecutor’s office, the resurrected deceased, Dmitry Malinovsky, committed fraud of “more than 12 million euros”.
On October 5, 2018, the gendarmes arrested him in “his” palace. Since then, he has been in Nancy’s prison, where we will know if there is a trial “in the coming months”, perhaps “in the first half of 2022,” Vincent Legout, deputy prosecutor in Nancy, told AFP. According to his lawyer Benoit Diri, the Ukrainians do not want to comment.
Meanwhile, the palace remains closed and its furniture is sold. “It’s a huge loss,” said Mayor Veronique Richter.
“This irreversible deformation probably seals the restructuring towards future residential use”, warns Siegfried Bollard-Gervais, who specialized in the rehabilitation of the castle and who had already expressed his interest in La Rochepote.
The mayor requested, in vain, a postponement of the sale, an approach supported by Alain Suguenot, the LR president of the agglomeration community, and the local deputy LREM Didier Paris: “The sale seems to me, if not a fatal blow, at least to the charm of the palace. To remove part of”, he judges.
But “the matter is in the hands of justice,” recalls François Sauvadet, the department’s UDI chairman.
The residents of the village found the surprising support of Olga Kislova, the former partner of Dmitry Malinovsky also alleged. Selling furniture is “a big mistake (that would destroy the potential of this place,” she told AFP.
Ms. Kislova is the original owner of the premises, according to her lawyers, Sinam Paksuit and Stephan Bonifasi. Dmitry Malinovsky was only “in charge of managing the property.” “And this mismanagement has led to the inevitable liquidation that is now worth the transfer of furniture”, says Mi Paksuit.
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