New doubts over government role in acid death of Ukraine activist

Questions remain over the culpability of government officials in the murder of anti-corruption activist Kateryna Gandziuk. 

Editorial Team
Jessica Sirotin NewsMavens, Europe
New doubts over government role in acid death of Ukraine activist - NewsMavens
Kateryna Gandziuk, YouTube

Why this story matters:

On July 31, 2018, Ukrainian activist Kateryna Gandziuk, an activist well known for her fight against government corruption in the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, had just left her home to go to work when she was attacked by a man who poured a liter of sulfuric acid over her. After three months and 14 operations, Gandziuk died from her injuries.

Following an investigation, Ukrainian law enforcement arrested six people, including a senior local official who is suspected of organizing the attack. One further suspect fled and is being sought by the authorities.

However, those close to Gandziuk question whether the police did in fact uncover the full extent of the conspiracy that was working to silence Gandziuk. 

Recently acquired phone records revealed that one of the key suspects, who allegedly took care of the payments for the assault on the activist, was in frequent contact with more than a dozen police officers, prosecutors, and employees of the SBU, the country’s security service, both before and after the attack.

A new investigative video now discussions questions of whether government officials knew of the attack on Gandziuk before it took place and whether the investigation was ever seriously carried out.

Details from the story:

  • Gandziuk was one of nine activists to be attacked -- and the third to be killed -- in Ukraine in 2018.
  • An investigative documentary released on March 25 by Slidstvo.info, OCCRP’s Ukrainian member center, raises troubling questions about the investigation. It can be seen here.
  • Gandziuk was well known for her critiques of corruption and abuse by local officials, which she frequently published on her Facebook page.
  • According to Gandziuk, speaking from her hospital bed before her death: “I don’t trust the official investigation, [or] that they will be officially brought to justice,” Gandziuk told OCCRP.
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