Far-right Serhiy Sternenko received a suspicion of murder, as well as of illegal carrying of knives. As he said himself, in the morning the police came to him with a decision to bring him to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
The SBU also described in detail how they qualified the case and what is said in the investigation materials. So, according to intelligence, Ivan Kuznetsov and Oleksandr Isaikul attacked Sternenko in order to intimidate him and inflict bodily harm. Sternenko really had a need for self-defense, but only at the very beginning of the attack.
“Defending himself, a public activist covered himself with punches with his left hand and stabbed with his right. As a result, A. Isaykul received a cut wound in the anterior abdominal wall, and I. Kuznetsov - a penetrating stab-cut wound to the abdomen. We note that S. Sternenko may correspond to the concept of “necessary defense,” the SBU said.
However, what happened later is difficult to call self-defense.
“Since I. Kuznetsov fled the scene, the attack on Sternenko is considered to be over - nothing threatened his life and health. However, Sternenko ran after Kuznetsov, caught up with him, and inflicted several wounds, in particular a stab in the heart, which led to death. The body of I. Kuznetsov was found almost 100 meters from the place of the first fight. That is, statements that S. Sternenko wounded I. Kuznetsov during self-defense, and subsequently did not inflict any wounds, are untrue,” the SBU writes.
The fact about the knife was also taken into account. Immediately after the attack, Sternenko on his Facebook page during the broadcast announced that the knife belonged to him. Although later he began to claim that he had taken the knife away from the attackers.
Despite this, he was handed a petition to select a preventive measure in the form of round-the-clock house arrest. True, his lawyer, Masi Nai, equated this with detention. Given that Ukrainians spent several months of strict quarantine at home, it is unlikely that such a preventive measure will cause much sympathy.
But still, if found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
What is Sternenko known for?
Another criminal proceeding in which Sternenko appears is a suspicion of involvement in the drug trade.
For the first time, Sternenko came to the attention of employees of the Office for the fight against drug trafficking in 2013. That is, even before the Maidan and until the moment when he entered far-right "Right Sector" and became known as the head of the Odesa branch of this organization.
According to the criminal proceedings registered in the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations under the number 1201716000000092 of 12/14/2017, Sternenko is suspected of several episodes of drug sales via the Internet - he began to engage in this activity, according to investigators, since 2013.
Also, Sternenko’s former associate, activist Dmytro Rudy, told Strana news agency that in 2014, Sternenko as the head of the Right Sector in Odesa, was engaged in patronizing bars and stalls.
However, in addition to suspicions of drug trafficking, the police have at least another two statements from people affected by Sternenko.
This time we are talking about more serious crimes - kidnapping, robbery, and extortion. It is interesting that the criminal proceedings for kidnapping are already three years old, but they are still in a "frozen" state - apparently, for "political" reasons.
According to one of the statements, Sternenko with someone Ruslan D. kidnapped and tortured the deputy of the Lyman town council Serhiy Shcherbych in 2015. After the kidnapping, Shcherbych was beaten with a club and tortured with sophisticated methods - for example, they crushed his fingers with pliers. Also, according to the victim, he was shot several times from a traumatic pistol in the back and legs. At the same time, Shcherbych’s hands and feet were tied.
According to police, the abductors, led by Sternenko, kept Shcherbich in the office of the Right Sector (on Zhukovsky Street in Odesa). After intimidation and beatings, the "activists" left the deputy near the local court.
Another Odesa citizen, Stas V., spoke about the second case of abduction and torture by a group of activists led by Sternenko. His statement is also in the police. He claims that he was kidnapped and threatened by people, among whom was Sternenko - on a tip from the Right Sector from the Bila Tserkva to whom Stas had recently sold a car. As a result, 6,000 USD were taken from him.
In 2017, Sternenko was still detained and sent to Odesa remand prison. However, he was released on bail. The bail was paid by then governor of Odesa region Maksym Stepanov, now occupying the post of Minister of Health.
Impunity and protection
Some sources in the central office of the SBU told Strana that the body has become “interested” in Sternenko back in 2014 after the young guy became the head of the Odesa branch of the then influential Right Sector.
Before that, he was an ordinary student. During the Maidan in 2014, Sternenko traveled to Kyiv, enlisted the support of Kyiv, and came to Odesa as the head of the Odesa Right Sector.
According to an intelligence officer, his agency “made contact,” and in simple terms, recruited Sternenko in the summer of 2015. By the way, the recruitment of leaders and the most active “fighters” of radical patriotic organizations took place in all cities of Ukraine. It was a centralized “office” policy that set itself the task of controlling radical organizations.
“The goal of the project is informal moral and forceful pressure on courts, police, customs, politicians, and opposition parties. Other tasks were implied as well – pressure with the help of “puppet patriots” on business, as well as intervention and control over frankly criminal sectors – game business, sales drugs, smuggling, arms trafficking, prostitution, and illegal migration. The radicals played the role of performers of any actions of the "customer" that did not fit into the framework of the law,” a senior intelligence official admitted.
The establishment by the SBU of control over radicals in 2015 coincided with the "purge" of ranks in patriotic organizations and the split of many of them. Thus, puppeteers from the special services cut off those who, in their opinion, had too "independent" positions. Or tried to work for themselves.
According to the sources of Strana among the SBU employees, in Odesa, radicals, and in particular, the Odesa branch of the Right Sector and personally Sternenko was supervised by an employee of the SBU D. He worked in the "T" Department of Odesa USBU and, according to Strana, resigned in May, after the change of leadership of the office.”
“A considerable budget was allocated for Sternenko and his team. It was spent on renting housing for activists, issuing a daily benefit for intimidation actions,” a source in SBU assures.
In the summer of 2019, Sternenko intimidated journalists and called for blocking the operation of the 112 Ukraine television channel. In connection with these threats, the channel turned to the SBU.