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11 Feb, 2009 12:02

White House falling apart…in Ukraine

Did you know that a mansion almost identical to the White House in Washington D.C. is situated in a small village in Ukraine?

Locals are calling the copycat structure “a 20-dollar bill house” because of its poor condition and have called upon the U.S. president for help.

The White house in Washington D.C. is the office and the residence of American president, while the village of Chornomyn in Southern Ukraine – more than ten thousand kilometers from the U.S. capital – is a lot less known.

With little more than a thousand people it could be described as a typical village, but Chornomyn has its own taste of Pennsylvania Avenue – the Ukrainian White House. The mansion of 19th century aristocrat Sofya Pototskaya is an almost exact replica of the presidential building in Washington. This building, however, is not a seat of wealth and power. Instead, it’s a school.

Inside the school the floor plan is just like the real White House. The place where children gather in between lessons corresponds with the Oval Office. The classroom for computer education is situated in the President’s bedroom.

Sadly the building in Chornomyn is not as well preserved as its counterpart in Washington and is badly in need of renovations.

Anastasiya Ostapchuk is due to graduate from the school soon, and she has joined up with a number of other former pupils who can’t bear to see their beloved alma-mater fall apart. They’ve decided to act by asking the U.S. President to fix it.

“We feel bad that our school looks worse than the real White House. Both exterior and interior sides are decaying and we want it fixed. That’s why we grouped up and collectively wrote a letter to the new American president. We hope that he’ll be able to help us save our school,” Anastasiya Ostapchuk said.

The principal says the school has been underfinanced for a decade, and he doesn’t know how much longer the building can remain in use without new investment.

“We need lot of renovations. All floorboards, all windows – they’re so old. The windows haven’t been fixed in more than 50 years,” school principal Ruslan Brol, said.

He says the school had addressed two former presidents of the U.S. with the same plea, but so far help has only come from the local authorities, which hasn’t been enough.

“Last year the authorities invested around one hundred thousand U.S. dollars. We managed to fix several breakdowns and installed a new heating system. But now with the global financial crisis we do not know whether we’ll get any more money,” Brol added.

During the presidential campaign Barack Obama said that the first thing he would do once in the office was to set up a basketball court in his residence. Chornomyn’s school doesn’t have one either, but its students hope that the new American president’s vow to bring changes will not only apply to his residence but also to the White House in Ukraine.