On July 31 last year, a Kherson official and an activist Kateryna Handziuk was attacked near her house. A year after the resonant crime, its organizers and instigators of the murder remain at large. This day, several dozen activists from different cities gathered in Kherson to remind the society of the importance of punishing criminals.
In the morning on July 31, the city council officials who parked their cars behind the city executive committee building and all who passed by noticed big writing on a wall: “The murderers of Katia Handziuk will be punished”. The writing is made with a special font used by the participants of the initiative “Who Ordered Katia Handziuk?”.
The inscription appeared on the night of July 31. Obviously, it was made by the participants of the initiative. According to our information, police officers tried to prevent them from doing it, but after the policemen were explained that it was coordinated with the city authorities, they left.
In the afternoon on July 31, Kherson journalists were waiting for some activity. They were waiting in different locations. But the first meeting was held by several dozen activists who arrived in Kherson from different cities near the regional police headquarters.
Sound from a clarion loudspeaker, smoke grenades, firecrackers and flares – these were the attributes of the participants of the action that were involved in other locations as well.
The activists hung a sign with the inscription “vul. Kateryny Handziuk 4” onto the police building. This street was earlier renamed by the members of the city council from “Luteranska” to “Kateryny Handziuk” to commemorate Katia’s struggle with the law enforcement system. However, subsequently, the council’s decision was challenged in court, and new signs never appeared on the buildings of this street.
The main reproach of the protesters to the police is the sabotage of the investigation of the attack on Kateryna Handziuk in the first days after the crime. Then, we remind, the police detained the Khersoner Mykola Novikov who was in no way involved in the attack and qualified the incident as hooliganism.
In addition, the police did not carry out necessary operational and investigative actions during the first days of the investigation, which later helped the true criminals to “cover their tracks” and prevented an effective investigation.
After the police headquarters, the activists went to the house of Ihor Pavlovsky. According to investigators, Pavlovsky knew about the crime and covered it from law enforcement. However, despite a suspicion handed over to him, Pavlovsky is at large. Recently he was seen at a football match for the Ukrainian Super Cup in Odesa.
Earlier, Pavlovsky’s lawyers asked the court to change his preventive measure from detention to house arrest. The court granted the motion. Now, however, the validity period of house arrest expired, and a new measure of restraint for Pavlovsky was not chosen since the prosecutor’s office did not ask for it.
Actually, that’s what revolted the activists and the participants of the initiative “Who Ordered Katia Handziuk?”. The activists painted the gate of the house where Pavlovsky lives and threw a few flares into the yard. No one came out of the house to meet the activists.
The same performance took place near the office of the company owned by Yevhen Ryshchuk – the deputy of the regional council from PPB, ex-deputy of the Kherson Regional State Administration chairman Andriy Gordieiev. Activists believe Ryshchuk is also involved in the attack on Handziuk. Although the official investigation has not handed over the suspicion to him.
Around one and a half dozen police officers gathered near the office of Ryshchuk. However, they did not prevent activists from engaging in fine arts and did not enter into fights.
The Regional State Administration and the Regional Council in Kherson are located in one building on Ploshcha Svobody. Vladyslav Manher – the Chairman of the Kherson Regional Council and the key suspect in Handziuk’s case whom the investigation calls the organizer of a crime – works in this building.
On July 24, the Attorney General’s Office stopped the proceedings against Manher and his alleged accomplice Levin. The proceeding was stopped and the pretrial investigation terms which end on August 3 were not prolonged before.
Therefore, there is a risk that after the completion of Manher’s measure of restraint term (he wears an electronic bracelet and can’t leave Ukraine), the main suspect may avoid consideration of his case in court at all. The proceeding is suspended due to the fact that the investigation has not considered Levin yet and it is unknown when it may happen.
The activists reminded near the Regional State Administration that the main suspect in the case of Handziuk works in this building. “Killers must be thrown in jail,” the participants of the action chanted after painting the walls of the building. Here the police tried to stop the activists but in vain. A few hours later all the writings were erased.
A Kherson activist, a deputy manager of the Executive Committee of the City Council Kateryna Handziuk was attacked on July 31, 2018. A concentrated solution of sulfuric acid was poured on her near her house. As a result, the woman received severe chemical burns on 40% of the body. Handziuk spent 96 days in the hospital and underwent 14 complex operations. Kateryna died on November 4, 2018.
On June 6 of this year, the Pokrovsk district court of Dnipropetrovsk region announced a sentence to the perpetrators of the attack who confessed to the crime. The organizer of the group of performers Serhiy Torbin was sentenced to 6 years and 6 months in prison. The direct executor of the attack Mykyta Hrabchuk will spend 6 years behind bars. The partners in crime Volodymyr Vasianovych and Viacheslav Vyshnevsky were sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment. Another accomplice, Viktor Horbunov, to up to 3 years in prison.
The orderers of the attack on Handziuk are still at large. The case concerning the suspect in the organization of a crime, the chairman of the Kherson Regional Council Vladyslav Manher, is allocated in separate production. The proceedings against the suspect in aiding Manher, Oleksiy Levin, who left Ukraine in August last year and is still hiding from the investigation abroad, are also separated.
Ivan Antypenko, photos by the author