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Ukrainian Regional Official Suspected in Activist’s Gruesome Slaying

Kataryna Handziuk made enemies in Kherson by campaigning against illegal development.

12 February 2019

A ranking politician in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region has been charged with planning the gruesome murder of civic activist Kataryna Handziuk.

 

Handziuk, an adviser to the mayor of Kherson and a campaigner against illegal development, died in November, three months after being doused with acid, RFE/RL reports.

 

The head of the Kherson regional council, Vladyslav Manher, could face life imprisonment if convicted of organizing the crime.

 

Three people detained last year on suspicion of involvement in the attack are in pretrial detention, and two others are under house arrest.

 

 

The shocking attack was one of many assaults on civic activists in 2018, several in the nearby city of Odessa.

 

A document posted on Facebook yesterday by Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko asserts that Manher had “personal animosity” towards Handziuk because of her effort to expose “illegal deforestation” in the region, RFE says.

 

Manher denied knowing or having any ties with Handziuk.

 

Manher was a member of Batkivshchyna, the political party headed by Yulia Tymoshenko, the former premier who is contesting the March presidential election.

 

The party expelled him on 9 February, after he said he was suspending his membership during the investigation, Halya Coynash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group writes.

 

On Saturday, police in Kyiv detained 20 ultra-nationalists  who staged a protest at a Batkivshchyna rally before Tymoshenko delivered a speech, the Kyiv Post reports.

 

The protesters demanded a full investigation into Handziuk’s killing. They were released later that day but clashed with police when they re-entered a police station to reclaim their confiscated belongings.

 

 

  • A shooting during a protest against an illegal construction on a beach in Odessa followed only two months after Handziuk’s attack, adding to the growing concern about violence targeting activists.

 

  • The Ukrainian parliament set up an interim committee in November to probe the attacks on Handziuk and other public activists, Unian reported.

 

  • Lutsenko cited the “bloody PR” around the Handziuk scandal when announcing his resignation in November. He decided to stay on after President Petro Poroshenko rejected his letter of resignation, the Kyiv Post reported.

Compiled by Rose Joy Smith

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