Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
13.12.2002 | S. Vodolagin, Chernigiv

But some animals are more equal…


For almost a month Chernigiv boils with rumors concerning the tragic event that occurred on the Independence Day in the center of the town. The pretext for the rumors is a horrible murder committed before many eyewitnesses, most of whom were representatives of the local elite. The story is tragic, but would be a routine one, if not some peculiar circumstances. In particular, the victim appeared to be Oleg Gritsev, the head of the control department of the Chernigiv oblast state administration, and the criminal was lieutenant colonel M. Burmaka, an officer of the Chernigiv USS directorate.

The information about the event is rather contradictory. But the fact itself was confirmed head of the oblast state administration V. Butko himself at his press conference, as well as the official edition of the oblast administration.

From the information we obtained we have concluded our own version of the event of 24 August. I repeat, a version, since the truth about the event is carefully concealed by some rather obvious reasons. So, we can make mistakes in separate details.

The tragic events occurred in the business-club (cafe) „Fortuna“. „Fortuna“ is situated in the very 0center of the town (about 100 meters from the building of the oblast state administration) and is owned by the Chernigiv institute of economics and administration. The rector of this institute is Mr. Sukhovirskiy, known by his proximity to the oblast administration and his suspicious operations with real estate, which, before his intervention, belonged to the territorial community of the oblast. The prosecutor’s office somehow does not desire to get interested in these machinations. As a rule, various social happenings of the local elite are held in this club.

Oleg Gritsev with his wife came to the club to celebrate the state holiday. Gritsev’s wife is much younger than her husband, she is a very good-looking woman of 30. During the party a quarrel began, by some evidence the reason was Gritsev’s wife. Several men went outdoor, and Gritsev, as a respectable man, went out to pacify the hotheads. He was beaten and died later in a hospital. According to one of the versions, the fatal blow was on the jaw hit by M. Burmaka.

The law-enforcing organs and the oblast administration confirmed the fact. Now the case documents are kept in the military prosecutor’s office. On 3 September the military prosecutor’s office started the criminal case against former USS lieutenant colonel M. Burmaka suspected in having committed crime envisaged by part 1 Article 119 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The article is called „manslaughter“ and appoints the punishment in the form of incarceration for the term from three to five years (or restriction of freedom for the same term).

On the day after the events in „Fortuna“ Burmaka was dismissed from the service, but since he committed the manslaughter being a USS officer, his case is considered by the military prosecutor’s office. No measures restricting his freedom were applied. The investigation considered that he would not be in the way of the process and would not disappear.

The investigation officers classified the crime as manslaughter without premeditation. It follows that the criminal may remain unpunished. It is interesting how the law-enforcers would classify the crime, if it were committed by a man in the street, not an USS officer. I believe that it would be treated as premeditated murder (Article 115). I hope that the court will be just.

To conclude, I want to say several words about the late O. Gritsev. He was a very kind man, who did not miss the violations of the rights of the oblast dwellers and honestly fulfilled his service duties. That is why people were shocked by his death.

To the attention of our readers! 

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