Police suspected of involvement in horrific acid attack on Ukrainian civic activist Kateryna Handziuk
The criminal investigation initiated by the SBU [Ukraine’s Security Service] into the attack on Kateryna Handziuk suggests that police officers are suspected of involvement in this truly shocking crime. Handziuk, a well-known civic activist and assistant to the Mayor of Kherson, remains in the Kyiv hospital to which she was airlifted a day after sulphuric acid was hurled at her on July 31, leaving her with second and third degree burns over 30% of her upper body. This was the latest and most dangerous of many attacks on civic activists over recent months, and Handziuk’s very public criticism of certain people in or linked with the police made it even more high-profile.
The police initially qualified the attack as ‘hooliganism’, however that same day, this was changed to ‘causing grave bodily injuries in order to intimidate a person’ (Article 121 § 2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code). It soon became clear that Handziuk’s assailant had used a concentrated form of sulphuric acid, which the police
On August 3, the Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko reported having visited Handziuk in hospital.
Lawyer Masi Nayyem, who is representing Handziuk,
It remains to be seen what, if anything, comes of this SBU investigation, with this depending both on whether there is the political will to carry it through, and on whether the suspect, detained on 3 August, Mykola Novikov, a 38-year-old from Kherson, provides the relevant information.
The SBU proceedings were initiated on 7 August, a day after Novikov
In fact, the National Police are still reporting on the progress of their investigation into the attack. On 7 August, the Head of the National Police, Serhiy Knyazev
As reported, Handziuk has been highly critical of the Kherson regional department of the National Police and other authorities. In September 2017,
12 days later, Handziuk
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
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,
In an article written shortly after the attack on Handziuk, Yevhen Bystrytskiy, until 2017 the Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation,