war crimes in Ukraine

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Environmentalists in no doubt as to why O. Goncharov was murdered

Environmentalists and civic activists are concerned over police distortions of the testimony given by the murdered environmental activist and defender of Zhukiv Island
A press conference was held on 2 June by environmentalists, journalists and civic activists entitled “Who is behind the murder of a defender of Zhukiv Island”?
As already reported, at midday on 26 May outside his own home 59-year old Oleksandr Goncharov was murdered by two assailants. His wife was badly beaten.
Two days before his death, Mr Goncharov had taken part in an action to stop the illegal extraction, deposition and sale of sand at Zhukiv Island by several commercial firms.
Volodymyr Boreiko, Head of the Kyiv Environmental-Cultural Centre:
“I am 99% certain that this crime is linked with Goncharov’s attempts to hamper the illegal extraction of sand on the territory of the reserve”.
This version is given added credence by the testimony of the murdered man’s wife Monika Mateova who was also assaulted during the attack on her husband. Ms Mateova speaks of the deliberate nature of the attack, the fact that the men had weapons, and recounts that they threatened her, so that she wouldn’t complain about the unlawful sand extraction.
This contradicts the version from the police who claim an everyday nature of the conflict which led to the killing.
The position of the police is a cause of concern to the activists since in their public statements representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are distorting the position of Goncharov’s widow, claiming that she supports their version, and believes the killing was over the hiring of a boat.
Journalist Oleksy Kutyepov who, with Goncharov’s assistance, prepared a television feature on the illegal activities with sand recounts how on the eve of the tragedy, the deceased complained of threats of physical reprisals from the organizers of the sand extraction. Kutyepov stressed that the murder had taken place almost immediately after they had, with Goncharov’s help, taken video footage of the illegal extraction.
Deputy Head of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine Oleksy Vasylyuk explained that at present there are three court cases in progress over the reserve and initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office and the public. Over the last six months two criminal investigations have been launched over the illegal extraction of sand.
Yet neither the court cases, nor the courts, nor the decision of the profile committee of the Verkhovna Rada seem able to stop the destruction of the reserve. The participants in the press conference stated that the illegal extract of sand is still continuing which they see as evidence of the authorities’ incompetence.
They are initiating a public investigation, and a campaign of supervision over the official investigation. They demand that the immediate perpetrators, as well as those who found the killing convenient be punished as soon as possible.
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