Lutsenko started talking
July 31 last year in Kherson, she was doused with sulfuric acid. On November 4, after many days of pain and a number of operations, she died in one of Kyiv hospitals. Law enforcers are investigating the murder of a public activist, Kateryna Handzyuk, as "a completed premeditated murder committed by a group of people for mercenary motives with special cruelty and to order." And only months later, after numerous actions of public discontent, the prosecutor general showed at least some significant progress in this matter.
In August, was arrested the alleged organizer of the attack, Serhiy Torbin, as well as his accomplices, Volodymyr Vasyanovych, Vyacheslav Vyshnevsky, Viktor Gorbunov and Mykyta Grabchuk, who, according to investigators, doused the activist with acid. They are participants of hostilities in the east of Ukraine as part of volunteer formations.
Vasyanovych, Vyshnevsky and Gorbunov were subsequently released under house arrest.
In November, was arrested Igor Pavlovsky, assistant to the Mykola Palamarchuk, MP from the Petro Poroshenko’s bloc. He is suspected of transferring money to Torbin. Palamarchuk himself said that he fired Pavlovsky.
In December, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, called the criminal Olexiy Levin the key person involved in the case and added that the investigation had established the customers and organizers of the crime. According to the head of the Prosecutor’s Office, a businessman who was imprisoned for involvement in the attacks and murders of taxi drivers in Kherson, left the country on the day when the police made the first arrests in the Handzyuk case. According to the people's deputy Mustafa Nayem, Levin is in the Dominican Republic. He was announced wanted in Ukraine.
The motive for the murder of Kateryna Handzyuk Lutsenko called her activity against the corruption schemes of local authorities. According to the media data, which was later officially confirmed by the Prosecutor General, we are talking about the shadow business of wood trade. Sold wood was mentioned as burnt in arson. The activist herself stated that Vladyslav Manger, the head of the Kherson regional council, was implicated in the illegal wood trade, who, according to her, “knocked out” the leader of the veterans' association Olexander Tsegelnik, from this illegal business.
However, a week after the death of Kateryna Handzyuk a "corruption trail" was noticed in the case. An audio recording, in which the mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovy, accuses her of corruption, appeared on the web.
“Regarding this Handzyuk from Kherson. For you to understand, this is a bitch who is the leader of corruption in the city council. She is a “right hand” of the mayor. It’s her idea that all the MPs should head utility companies — eighteen deputies head utility companies. She’s a leader of "kickbacks" in the city. Everything goes through her," he noted in the audio.
The mayor of Lviv himself admitted that it’s his voice in the recording him, but noted that he had prematurely suspected Handzyuk of corruption.
In turn, the father of Kateryna Handzyuk, Viktor at a meeting of the temporary commission to investigate the circumstances of the murder of his daughter expanded the proposed list of suspects. According to him, the possible organizer of the attack on Handzyuk Levin collaborated with the chairman of the Kherson Regional Council Vladyslav Manger, as well as with the head of the Kherson Regional State Administration, former MP from Petro Poroshenko’s bloc Andriy Gordeyev and his deputy Yevgen Ryshchuk.
“For me now, Batkivshchyna is the party of my daughter’s murderers. For me now, the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc is the party of my daughter’s murderers,” said Handzyuk. On the same day, Gordeyev declared that his name and position, as well as his parents' grief, “are being used in political manipulations,” and Ryschuk said that he had never been acquainted with Levin.
It should be noted that during the investigation, social activists organized a series of rallies and pickets demanding from the security officials to announce "Who ordered Kateryna Handzyuk?" The latter rally was held near the house of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov - the building was shelled with fireworks.
Avakov and Lutsenko consider this the pressure on the investigation and the struggle for power. In November, Lutsenko reported on the progress of the investigation of Handzyuk case in the Verkhovna Rada. In the end, it all came down to mutual insults and the resignation of the Prosecutor General, which, of course, the president did not accept.
On February 11, the chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, Vladyslav Manger, was nevertheless handed a message about the suspicion of the murder of Kateryna Handzyuk. At the briefing, Yuriy Lutsenko rejected political implications in declaring suspicion to Manger and called for informing law enforcement authorities about the possible involvement of others in the murder.
“As a leader of a group of prosecutors, I can tell you that today I don’t know any evidence about the involvement of, for example, Gordeyev in a crime against Handzyuk. Not a single fact, evidence has been provided to the investigation,” said the prosecutor general.
According to Lutsenko, Handzyuk was killed precisely because of her opposition to deforestation. Ostensibly Manger gave the performers 10 000 hryvnia (357 USD) for the purchase of sulfuric acid and communication means.
"In order to organize this (Handzyuk’s murder, - ed.) Manger appealed to Levin and Pavlovsky, who were previously familiar to him, and suggested that they find the perpetrators and organize the murder of Kateryna Handzyuk. Levin and Pavlovsky agreed, feeling their own selfish interest and personal dislike for the deceased " said Lutsenko.
Torbin was also attracted to the crime with Manger’s consent. "Torbin attracted previously familiar to him Gorbunov, Vasyanovych, Vyshnevsky, Grabchuk. Handzyuk's movement routes were tracked, acid was purchased, a secret group was created in the network," said Lutsenko.
In his words, on July 31, it was Torbin, Grabchuk, Gorbunov, Vasyanovych, Vyshnevsky who attacked Handzyuk near her home. “Not later than August 4, Pavlovsky, with Levin’s consent, handed over 4000 dollars to Torbin for committing an assault on Handzyuk’s life and instructed all participants in the attack to take measures to prevent them from being exposed by law enforcement agencies,” the prosecutor general said.
Manger himself denies involvement in the murder. However, the trial has already begun to seek a preventive measure. The investigation requests the arrest without the possibility of bail.
Elections coming soon
Manger’s suspicion has already passed on to the political plane and has become a pretext for a public exchange of “courtesies” between the teams of the current president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Thus, in the “Batkivshchyna”party on the eve of Lutsenko’s briefing, they decided to exclude Manger from the party and advised him to resign. Nevertheless, the next day they declared political repression.
"Announcement of suspicion in the murder of activist Kateryna Handzyuk to the chairman of the Kherson Regional Council Vladyslav Manger is a political order against party leader Yulia Tymoshenko," the Batkivshchyna party said in a statement.
The party stressed that Mykola Palamarchuk, MP from Petro Poroshenko’s bloc, appeared in this case, therefore the General Prosecutor’s Office is doing everything to remove the charges from the members of the current president’s team.
“Manger’s suspicion has been declared solely for political purposes as a method of dishonest struggle for power. The security forces are clearly and coordinated working against Yulia Tymoshenko as the main competitor of Petro Poroshenko in the elections. They organize dirty provocations and carry out a political order,” the statement said.
In turn, the team of the head of state hinted that Tymoshenko was simply not very picky when selecting a team, and recalled the story of the ex-member of the Batkivshchyna faction Viktor Lozynsky, who received 15 years in prison for the murder, and also the fugitive ex-deputies Volodymyr Oliynyk and Andriy Portnov, who before the joining Party of Regions were members of the Tymoshenko’s team.
Manger’s suspicion wasn’t a surprise to Tymoshenko’s headquarters. According to sources of 112.ua in the Batkivshchyna party, the members knew about the head of the Kherson Regional Council about three weeks ago. Interlocutors deny his involvement in the murder of Kateryna Handzyuk
“Manger and Petro Poroshenko’s bloc representatives have a common business, sometimes conflicts regarding shares arise... They decided to open a case before elections and strike on Yulia. After the election, the story will come to the end,” sources believe.
According to media reports, Manger and Deputy Chairman of the Kherson Regional State Administration Yevgen Ryshchuk allegedly provided cover for businesses associated with deforestation in the Tsyurupinsky district of the Kherson region.
The interlocutors do not exclude that the case against Manger will not be the last one regarding Tymoshenko’s associates (allegedly at the sight of law enforcement officers got the head of the party cell in the Kyiv region Kostyantyn Bondarev and 5 more party members) and will not pass unnoticed for her rating, however they add that they can adequately answer Poroshenko's headquarters. It is possible that the case of Handzyuk will become a serious problem for both favorites of the election race.