Unidentified businessmen in Ukraine reportedly bribed local officials to get permission to raise a sunken World War II German Tiger tank from a swamp to sell it off on the black market, the Segodnya publication said on Friday.
The administration head and the local rescue chief in Gavrilovka near Dnepropetrovsk, eastern Ukraine, allegedly received $5,000 and $50,000 respectively from the businessmen, Segodnya said. It remains unclear whether the officials have been put into custody.
Villagers said the head of the local administration took the situation under personal control and even ordered the swamp where the Tiger tank had sunk to be guarded.
Police said the Tiger would be worth a lot of money on the black market. Local media have speculated that it could cost two million dollars or even euros.
Historical search organization “Poisk Dnepr” refused to confirm the tank was on the bottom of the swamp but villagers seem to be convinced otherwise.
“My father who was in a guerilla unit told me that the Nazi tried to escape but the tank got stuck and they left it behind," retiree Yekaterina Khristenko said.
The Tiger tank, one of Germany's most feared weapons, was designed in 1942 by the Henschel firm, who built at least 1,300. The Nazi used it until the end of World War II. Equipped with an 88-mm gun and thick armor, it was almost impervious to other tanks but suffered from poor mobility due to its 56-ton weight.