It’s been almost 7 months since the death of Ukrainian public figure and activist Kateryna Handzyuk. As reported by Tyzhden the official reason for the death of the assistant to the mayor of Kherson was a blood clot on November 4.
Three months before the death, there was a mysterious attempt of assassination on Kateryna Handzyuk, the circumstances of which we are going to look in a while.
In the Ukrainian, European and the US media, this attempt was titled as an “acid attack”, as reported by Kyiv Post, Guardian, BBC Certainly, the assassination attempt itself and the subsequent death of Kateryna Handzyuk made not only a public European resonance but have generated a number of political consequences as well.
For instance, on November 6, two days after the death of the Ukrainian activist, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko submitted his resignation, citing Handzyuk’s death as the reason. However, the president refused to accept the resignation and Mr. Lutsenko is still on his post and continues to serve as the prosecutor general of Ukraine.
There are some oddities and inconsistencies in the story if one pays attention to details that most experts did not attach much importance to. “Sulfuric acid is the key element in this contract murder,” said psychologist Oleg Maltsev, member of Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. According to Dr. Maltsev, this choice to commit a crime is extremely dangerous (for whoever performs the attack himself) and unreliable.
“In such a case, one is ought to have not only the knowledge but the skills of handling the sulfuric acid. It is an extremely aggressive substance and the operation such as could not have been organized without consulting chemists and conducting stage drills. Basically, it is a demonstrative execution. Probably, one of the goals was to demonstrate what might happen to unwanted activists and patriots.”
At the moment, the pre-trial investigation has established a number of facts, which are reflected in case no. 766/14761/18. From the registry:
“PERSON 5 (Sergey Torbin codenamed “Oper” – ed. Note) suggested committing a crime against PERSON 8 (Handzyuk) around mid-July 2018, to PERSON 6 (Viktor Gorbunov), as well as to PERSON 10 (Vyacheslav Vishnevsky), to PERSON 4 (Vladimir Vasyanovich codenamed “Shurup”), to PERSON 7 (Nikita Grabchuk codenamed “Muravei”). At the same time, he claimed that Handzyuk is a corrupt official with pro-Russian political views, thus it is necessary to injure her.”
“For the beatings, the direct perpetrator was offered $ 4,000, as for the acid attack, the mediator estimated it twice as low – $ 2,000. Based upon the statement of the head of the National Police, Sergei Knyazev, so far unknown customer initially offered $ 5000 for the beating. It is possible that most of the reward for the crime remained with the mediator. ”
The investigation of Katerina Handzyuk incident is looking into the version that officials involved in illegal deforestation in the Kherson region, whom she was fighting against, might be involved in the murder, as reported by Security Service of Ukraine on December 21th press center on Facebook.
Thus, among the suspects happened to be: Vladimir Vasyanovich, a soldier of the fifth squadron of the Ukranian volunteer army, codenamed Shurup – he fought, was repeatedly awarded, got a serious injury in war (lost one leg); Nikita Grabchuk codenamed Muravei – in the investigators’ view poured the acid on Kateryna Handzyuk; Victor Gorbunov – was aware of the intentions of his colleagues, bought the acid and handed it to his comrades, but did not take part in the attempt itself; Vyacheslav Vishnevsky, according to the investigation, participated in the assassination attempt, giving marks to Nikita Grabchuk. In the investigators’ view Sergey Torbin codenamed Oper is the direct organizer of the crime, a soldier who has fought since 2014, including in Peski, Donetsk airport and at the “Butovka” mine. Torbin has received a number of state awards. According to investigators, it was Torbin who served as an intermediary who received money from an unknown customer and organized the execution of an assassination attempt by the hands of former colleagues in the volunteer army and anti-terror operation (ATO).
The official version of what has happened on July 31, 2018, in Kherson is as follows:
On the morning of July 31, 2018, Muravei wearing shorts, a baseball cap, sneakers, and a jersey, hid in the garbage disposal unit at the entrance (of the building) where Kateryna Handzyuk resided. One of the neighbors who was coming out of the entrance noticed Grabchuk, who was looking out of a half-closed door, but the neighbor did not attach importance to what was happening. Vyacheslav Vishnevsky strolled across from the porch, waiting for Handzyuk. Vladimir Vasyanovich was waiting for accomplices in the Cherokee jeep parked on the other side of the high-rise building. About 8:40 in the morning, Daewoo service vehicle drove up to the entrance that used to pick up Handzyuk. The one who was observing the exit gave a signal over the phone. Muravei got out from the garbage disposal unit and waited for Handzyuk in the bushes near the entrance to the building. As soon as Kateryna came out, he rushed to her and attacked her with the acid. Both accomplices fled through a narrow passage between the buildings of the house.
According to expert Oleg Maltsev this crime has a historical prototype, namely, the murder of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). Remember a historical fact when Ramón Mercader used an ice ax as a weapon of assassination, which is totally uncharacteristic murder weapon just the way the sulfuric acid is in the murder incident of Kateryna Handzyuk. Ramon Mercader was entrusted to Trotsky’s office and had firearms on him on the day of the assassination, but the demonstrative execution was to be carried out precisely by means of an ice ax. Note that the ATO soldiers had the opportunity to use firearms with flameless and silent firing devices during the attack as well, however, the sulfuric acid was chosen as the weapon of murder. That is why Oleg Maltsev believes that the attempted assassination of Kateryna Handzyuk as well as the attack on Leon Trotsky is the work of the intelligence services.
This version is supported by another specialist, a colonel in the resignation of the criminal investigation department, the head of the homicide department – Alexander S (insider). He points out that there are obvious inconsistencies in the testimonies of the suspects. For example, the choice of sulfuric acid was allegedly made because if Kateryna Handzyuk was to be beaten – it could have attracted the attention of casual witnesses. However, it is absolutely obvious that as a consequence of the sulfuric acid attack, Kateryna Handzyuk with her cry of pain had attracted the attention of a large number of people. It is also clear from the case file that the customer of the assassination did not just give the fee to the executors, but also explained how ATO fighters should ideologically justify their actions: “Handzyuk is a corrupt official with pro-Russian political views.” Thus, in a given case the work of intelligence services of this or that country cannot be excluded. Especially in the context of the recent assassination attempt in Salisbury with the use of chemical weapons.