String of murders keep Kyiv captivated

On 16 April 2015, two pro-Russian journalists were killed in Kyiv. Olex Buzyna, a pro-Russian journalist, was murdered in the yard of his house by two unidentified gunman. His death comes directly after another journalist, Sergey Sukhobok, was also killed. Both men played a role in the ‘’Anti-Maidan’’ movement, which opposed pro-European protests in 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has voiced concern over the ongoing killing spree. The deaths are the latest in the string of murders that afflict Kyiv.

Olex Buzyna & Sergey Sukhobok

Olex Buzyna wrote pro-Russian opinion pieces and was up till last month chief editor of Ukraine’s Sevodnya daily newspaper, owned by Ukraine’s richest businessman Rinat Akhmentov. Buzyna was also known for his work as an author and a TV presenter. Sergey Sukhobok was widely known for his outspoken pro-Russian views and sympathy for Russia. Both were  prominent figures in Ukraine’s journalist scene. The police believes both were contract killings. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed his condolences and called for law-enforcement agencies to investigate the murders ‘’as soon as possible.’’ He added that the crimes were ‘’a conscious provocation on the destabilization of the political situation in Ukraine.’’

String of murders

Ever since January 2015, Kyiv has been captivated by a string of mysterious murders. At least eight former Ukrainian government officials died mysteriously, including hanging, ’allegedly’ jumping out of a window, and gunshots. The latest in the series of former government officials is Oleh Kalashnikov, who was killed last Wednesday evening as he entered his eighth floor apartment. MP Anton Gerashenko sees the motive behind Kalashnikov’s killing possibly being his ‘’political activity’’ linked to his ‘’participation in the organization and financing’’ of counter-revolutionary events in Ukraine. Ukrainian media reported earlier that Kalashnikov received several threats for his political views.

Other victims of the ‘murder spell’ are former chairman of Kharkov region government, Aleksey Kolesnik; mayor of Melitopol, Sergey Valter; and prosecutor Sergey Melnichuk. All of them were pro-Russia orientated and connected to ousted Viktor Yanukovich.

Anti-Maidan

An interior ministry advisor has said both latest victims played a role in the ‘’Anti-Maidan’’ movement, which opposed pro-European protests that eventually ensured Yanukovich to be ousted in February 2014. The victims were also witnesses in criminal cases related to pro-Russian activists who attacked protesters on the Maidan.

The former president left Ukraine after some 100 people were shot dead on the Maidan square in Kyiv. Russia later annexed the province of the Crimea and is believed to be involved in the ensuing conflict in Ukraine’s East, that has cost over 6000 people to lose their life.

Accusations

President Poroshenko said the killings of Buzyna, Sukhobok and Kalashnikov amounted to a conscious act intended to play Ukraine ‘’into the hands of our enemies.’’ Gerashenko shares his opinion but goes a bit further in saying the killings were the work of Russian special forces warning that opponents of Kyiv’s pro-Russian authorities ‘’could become the victims of Russian intelligence services.’’

However, Russian President Putin said the deaths were politically motivated and accused the Ukrainian government of failing to bring anyone to justice. He is joined by Oleg Tsarev, parliamentary speaker of the self-proclaimed Novorossiya, who believes the murder is meant as a warning for all those who dare to oppose the government.

By Elske Idzenga

Sources: Unian; NBC news; RT; Reuters;

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