Judicial investigation begins into the death of Oleh Dunich


Oleh Dunich died in December 2005 in an emergency care hospital after allegedly being beaten by officers of the Chervonozavodsky District Police Station in Kharkiv.

Much of what happened on the night between 7 and 8 December 2005 involving first one, and then three police officers and resulting in the death of Oleh Dunich remains unclear.  

This is what the reference note from 11 December 2005, signed by the deputy head of the Kharkiv City Department of Internal Affairs for the Kharkiv region, Police Colonel S.A. Onopriyenko, says:

“On 7.12.2005 between 23.00 and 24.00 operational officers of the Chervonozavodsky District Station of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine for the Kharkiv region, Police Captain K.H. Mykhailov, Senior Police Lieutenant A.V. Padalka and Police Lieutenant S.M. Kolyadin were in the club “E-2” on S. Hrytsevets Street in Kharkiv.  At 24.00 S.M. Kolyadin walked out onto the street to hail a taxi, while K.H. Mykhailov and A.V. Padalka remained inside the café. After leaving the café, S.M. Kolyadin was approached by two men unknown to him who began to demand that he hand over anything valuable which S.M. Kolyadin refused to do, after which one of the men, tall and with long hair, punched him in the region of the thorax.  S.M. Kolyadin told the men that he was a police officer, however one of the men took out an air pistol and aimed several shots at him , then proceeding to hit him with the handle of the pistol on his head, as a result of which S.M. Kolyadin fell to the ground and began calling for help. At that moment,  K.H. Mykhailov and A.V. Padalka ran up to him, and the unidentified individuals began running, however one of the assailants fell. After this, two men walked up and said that they had witnessed S.M. Kolyadin being beaten, and offered their assistance. It was later established that their names were S.V. Zhyla and S.V. Morsky.  S.V. Zhyla drove S.M. Kolyadin, K.H. Mykhailov and A.V. Padalka, as well S.V. Morsky, in his car to the Chervonozavodsky District Station, from where S.M. Kolyadin was hospitalized by an ambulance team in the 4th Hospital with an injury to the parietal region …K.H. Mykhailov, together with A.V. Padalka and S.V. Zhyla, returned to the place of the incident to carry out operational investigation measures, in the course of which at the market on S. Hrytsevets Street they detained O.M. Dunich, whom S.V. Zhyla identified as the man who had delivered blows to the head with his pistol to S.M. Kolyadin.  O.M. Dunich was taken to the Chervonozavodsky District Station, and entered into the visitors’ book of the station on 08.12.2005 at 04.00.  During a body search of O.M. Dunich, an air pistol was discovered and removed. An operational officer of the Chervonozavodsky District Station, Senior Police Lieutenant H.S. Snurnikov prepared a protocol on confiscation of the pistol which O.M. Dunich, in the presence of witnesses S.V. Zhyla and S.V. Morsky, categorically refused to sign. O.M. Dunich also refused to give any explanation.

Due to the fact that O.M. Dunich complained of his state of health, on 08.12.2005 in the premises of the district station, a forensic medical examination was carried out which found numerous haemotomas and haemorrhaging  which were classified as minor bodily injuries and which had been incurred at least three days before the examination (act № 4414С from 09.12.2005). Since O.M. Dunich’s health deteriorated, an ambulance was called which took him to the 4th Hospital, where at 12.00 on 09.12.2005 he died.

If we look at act № 4414С from the forensic medical examination on Oleh Mykhailovych Dunich, born 1975, who was “delivered on 08.12.2005 to the Chervonozavodsky District Station with bodily injuries due to a crime”, the medical expert Y.O.Danylenko presents the circumstances of the case and the conclusions from the forensic medical examination as follows:

„The individual under examination refused to say where his bodily injuries were from. However he stated that he had previously had surgical intervention in connection with trepanation of the skull. He mentioned headaches, giddiness, seeing spots.  Psychological or physiological methods were not applied.

It should be noted that when in contact with the individual under examination, there was a smell of alcohol, and he also mentioned that he had previously fallen more than once.

The individual under examination stated that he had been brought to the Chervonozavodsky District Station at around 04.00 by police officers on suspicion of having committed a crime.

...I have reached the following conclusion that he has suffered bruising on the face, body and limbs”.

 Only on 12 December did the Head of Branch No. 1 of the Kharkiv Regional Office for Forensic Medical Examinations write to the head of the Department of Internal Security in the Kharkiv region, Police Colonel A. Barkov. :

“In response to your verbal request I can state that on 08.12. 2005, at 8:40 a.m., Mr. Oleg

Mykhailovych Dunich was taken by ambulance MSP-315 from the Chervonozavodsky District Station on Gagarin Avenue to the emergency care hospital with the diagnosis: closed brain injury, brain haemorrhage, cerebral oedema, coma, blunt thoracic trauma, fracture of ribs on the left, blunt stomach injury, asphyxiation and blockage of the respiratory tract due to vomiting. Despite the measures taken, the patient’s condition remained extremely serious and at 11.30 his pulse effectively stopped. Attempts to resuscitate him were not successful. At 12.00 he was pronounced dead with a diagnosis of severe brain injury, subdural haematoma of the left hemisphere, contusion and fracture of the basiliar areas of the left temporal lobe, cerebral oedemic dislocation, as well as multiple injuries to the head, face, thorax and limbs.  No alcohol was found in O.M. Dunich’s organism on his admission to the emergency hospital.

The preliminary results of the autopsy on O.M. Dunich showed severe brain injury causing death, multiple bruising on the trunk and limbs, fracture of the thyroid cartilage, direct fractures of several ribs on the left, and pulmonary contusion.

The cause of O.M. Dunich’s death was a severe closed brain injury”.

It has now transpired that the forensic expert was forced to write the first forensic medical examination (saying that he had received the medium seriousness injuries three days earlier) under threat that they would get even with her if she didn’t.  This report said that the injuries were of medium severity and had been received three days earlier.

After Dunich’s death, his relatives questioned the forensic report.

There was a lot of publicity about Dunich’s death and the police officers resigned “of their own free will”. Dunich’s relatives approached the city prosecutor’s office. A criminal investigation was launched, but the trial only began nearly a year and a half later.

The city prosecutor’s office considers that Dunich was beaten to death by the three former police officers. Last week the Kyivsky District Court on the application of the prosecutor’s office remanded the men in custody. They are presently in a SIZO [pre-trial detention centre] however the preventive measure may be changed*.  They are charged under Articles 365 – exceeding their powers, 121 § 2 – inflicting serious bodily injuries leading to death, and face sentences if convicted of up to 12 years.


*  The Appeal Court did in fact uphold the decision to remand the men on the grounds that they could abscond or endeavour to influence other parties, as had allegedly already been the case.

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