MENU

Similar articles

Police suspected of involvement in horrific acid attack on Ukrainian civic activist Kateryna HandziukInvestigation sabotaged into savage acid attack on civic activist who exposed police corruptionPolice suspected of protecting culprits behind the attempted murder of civic activist Kateryna HandziukShooting of Odesa civic activist prompts warnings of danger to Ukraine’s national security55 unsolved attacks on Ukrainian civic activists. Prosecutor General says it’s their faultNobody believes Ukrainian environmental activist’s death was suicide, so why was the investigation terminated?Kherson activist Kateryna Handziuk dies after savage acid attackBelated ‘progress’ or more sabotage in hunt for killers of Ukrainian activist Katya Handziuk?Top Kherson official suspected of ordering fatal attack on civic activist Katya HandziukShock as criminal investigation against key suspect in Katya Handziuk murder suspendedUkrainian Court Sentences Five Men In Activist’s Death Following Acid AttackRussia calls Crimean Tatar physicist & civic journalist a ‘terrorist’ for reporting its lawlessness Death before a sentence: Russia is killing two Crimean Tatar political prisoners Russia blocks access to Ukrainian jailed for 6 years for social media post Venediktova drives out key figure helping Ukraine achieve justice over crimes in Russian-occupied Crimea and Donbas Belarusian activist threatened with deportation from Ukraine for criticizing the police Russia seeks to imprison tenth Crimean journalist for 18 yearsGravely ill Crimean Tatar political prisoner suffers stroke in Russian prison Crimean Tatar political prisoners rushed to hospital, one returned for more torture First Berkut police jailed for involvement in savage dispersal of Maidan activists

Savage attack on Kherson civic activist known for scathing criticism of police corruption

01.08.2018
Halya Coynash

Civic activist Kateryna Handziuk is in hospital after being sprayed with acid on 31 July by a young man who was lying in wait for her near her home.  Doctors report that she has burns to 30% of her face, head and upper part of the body.  This is the latest of several attacks on civic activists over recent months.  In most, if not all, cases, the culprits have not been found.  

Handziuk currently works as adviser to the Mayor of Kherson, Volodymyr Mykolaenko.  It may have been the latter’s protest at the police’s qualification of the attack as ‘hooliganism’ that led to this being changed to ‘causing grave bodily injuries in order to intimidate a person’ (Article 121 § 2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code).  Although there does not appear to be any danger to her life, the injuries the young woman sustained were serious, and were very deliberately inflicted.  Mykolaenko spoke of systematic attacks on activists in Kherson and said that he would be asking the Prosecutor General to hand the investigation to the SBU [Security Service].  He added that Handziuk has her suspicions as to who was behind the attack, but gave no details.

Handziuk is well-known for very strong criticism of the Kherson regional department of the National Police and other authorities.  In September 2017, she accused Artem Antoshchuk, who heads the department for protection of the economic within the Kherson Regional Police of demanding 3% as a bribe from all contracts and tenders. 

12 days later, Handziuk wrote that Antoshchuk had tried to retrospectively write a report, claiming that, on the contrary, a bribe had been demanded of him.

Handziuk also directly accused Antoshchuk of seeking a pretext to try to link her with dodgy budget allocations.  Since this is completely outside her scope, she said, in the end a search warrant was obtained on the bizarre grounds that somebody else was supposedly occupying her office.

“Corrupt cops calmly organize court rulings, make life hell for City Council officials, search, detain, fabricate cases and are very worried about their positions…”, Handziuk wrote.  She said that she hoped they were right to be going crazy over this, since she didn’t want to believe that all of this could go on with impunity.

Antoshchuk took Handziuk to court demanding the retraction of allegedly defamatory statements, however lost.  On March 13, 2018, the Kherson City Court found only one small part of Handziuk’s posts required retraction, but otherwise rejected the law suit.

Handziuk has also attacked what she views as pro-Russian circles linked with Ilya Kiva, the highly contentious former adviser to the Interior Minister.  Kiva has, on at least one occasion, responded with foul abuse directed at his critic.

One shot from CCTV footage has currently been made public of the believed assailant.  It is unlikely to help in identifying the person and Yevhenia Zakrevska, an activist and rights lawyer has called on all drivers to check the footage from their dashboard cameras and to ensure that these are not lost.

Transparency International in Ukraine issued a statement soon after the attack on Tuesday morning.  It called the use of acid in an attack on a civic activist in broad daylight a challenge to the law enforcement bodies, and demanded that they carry out a proper investigation.  TI pointed out that the police must “resist the temptation” to not follow this investigation through, given Handziuk’s strong criticism of the law enforcement agencies.  The police need to clearly demonstrate to the public that attacks on civic activists are a crime which will be punished.

TI was not alone in pointing to the alarming increase in attacks on independent media, whistle-blowers and civic activists over recent months.  Handziuk’s lawyer, Masi Nayyem is convinced that all of this has been made possible by the lack of any reaction from either Interior Minister Arsen Avakov or President Petro Poroshenko to the assault on journalist Serhiy Nikitenko.  If there is no reaction now, he says, he will assume that such violence with impunity suits them.

Nikitenko was attacked by two men in the Kherson oblast on 18 June.  The journalist says that his assailants silently beat him, before driving away in a car with a transit numberplate. 

There has been no progress on finding the culprits.

 Share this