In Digest, Feature Articles, Ukraine

Sputnik News, April 17, 2015

Oleh Kalashnikov, a Ukrainian MP and a member of the Party of Regions, was assassinated on Wednesday evening near his residence in Kiev, one of his relatives told local media.

Scene of murder of politician Oleh Kalashnikov in Kyiv on April 16, 2015 (Seregei Kozlov, Sputnik)

Scene of murder of politician Oleh Kalashnikov in Kyiv on April 16, 2015 (Seregei Kozlov, Sputnik)

The relative also said that Kalashnikov was recently threatened with bodily harm due to his political views, particularly for his call for a lavish celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in WWII, and that the slain politician received a considerable amount of hate mail.

The Security Service of Ukraine, SBU, was investigating Kalashnikov’s statements for a potential threat to the national security.

Opposition politician Oleh Kalashnikov, gunned down in Kyiv on April 17, 2015Recently, a number of former members of the Party of Regions and high ranking officials have died under mysterious circumstances, with their deaths being officially declared suicides.

 

Read also:
*
The suicide of Mikhail Chechetov: The witch-hunt of former Party of Regions officials continues, New Cold War.org, March 5, 2015

* Five high-ranked Ukrainian officials die in string of mysterious suicides, Sputnik News, March 9, 2015. Full article here:

The first death occurred on January 26 of this year, and would prove to be the beginning of a most violent month. A former first deputy chief of Ukrainian Railways, Mykola Serhiyenko, had worked directly for former president Mykola Azarov, who is now wanted by Interpol for embezzlement and misappropriation.

On January 26, Serhiyenko, 57, was found dead in his home in Kiev. He was alone, with all of his windows and doors locked from the inside. Apparent cause of death: a gunshot wound inflicted by his own hunting rifle.

The anniversary

Three days after Serhiyenko’s death, Oleksiy Kolesnyk was found dead after apparently hanging himself. A former head of the Kharkiv regional government, Kolesnyk had resigned in 2004.

He left no suicide note, leaving investigators to speculate, but several noted the date of his passing, which coincided with the birthday of his friend and fellow politician, Yevhen Kushnaryov.

Kushnaryov died in 2007 after being accidentally shot during a hunting expedition with friends.

The mayor and the mob

After a relatively calm month, a former mayor of Melitopol, Serhiy Walter, was found dead on February 25. Walter had been forced from his position in 2013 and was under investigation for his connections to organized crime, in the face of which he maintained his innocence.

Walter was found on the day he was set to appear before the latest of his 145 hearings. He had allegedly hanged himself.

The policeman and the mob

One day later, the body of Oleksandr Bordyuh, a former deputy chief with the Melitopol police department, was found in a garage. The official cause of death was listed as “hypertensive crisis,” though this is a term commonly used by police to refer to suicide.

The municipality of Melitopol wasn’t the only thing linking Bordyuh with Mayor Walter. A former boss of Bordyuh was a lawyer involved in the mayor’s trial.

The blame bearer

Two days after Bordyuh was found, Mykhaylo Chechetov also allegedly committed suicide. He had been arrested for fraud charges on the same day as Bordyuh’s death, purportedly for his cronyism while working with the State Property Fund.

Chechetov had been involved in low-balling corporate sales during post-Soviet privatization. Steel company Kryvorizhstal was sold to the son-in-law of former president Leonid Kuchma for only $850 million. That same company was later resold for a substantially larger sum of $4.8 billion.

Lawmakers have speculated that Chechetov killed himself rather than implicate his collaborators during trial.

“It’s a shame we’ll never get to learn all of the interesting things we would have heard from Chechetov’s evidence,” Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the Interior Ministry, wrote on Facebook.

Chechetov leapt from the window of his 17th story apartment on February 28.

A most violent transition

Several other State Property Fund personnel have died mysteriously since 1997. Last August, Valentina Semenyuk-Samsonenko, former leader of the agency, was found with a gunshot wound to the head. This occurred soon after family members claim she expressed concern that her life was in danger.

In 1997, the head of the Crimean branch of the Property Fund was killed in his home.

“Semenyuk and Chechetov won’t be saying anything,” lawmaker Ihor Lutsenko wrote in Ukrainska Pravda. “And that will cost us, the citizens of Ukraine, tens of billions of dollars.” As Lutsenko points out, killing Property Fund leaders makes it incredibly difficult to prove that profits were made through the privatization process.

What these deaths portend is anyone’s guess. An old Ukraine, beleaguered by violence, slowly and inevitably wearing away.

* * *

Eight deaths in January – April 2015 of former Ukrainian politicians

The following list is contained in an article dated April 17 by U.S. conservative libertarian Justin Raimondo.

  • January 26 – Nikolai Sergienko, former deputy chief of Ukrainian Railways and a supporter of Viktor Yanukoych’s Party of Regions, reportedly shot himself with a hunting rifle. The windows were all locked from inside, and no note was found.
  • January 29 – Aleksey Kolesnik, the former chairman of the Kharkov regional government and a prominent supporter of the now-banned Party of Regions, supposedly hung himself.  There was no suicide note
  • February 24 – Stanislav Melnik, another former Party of Regions member of parliament, was found dead in his bathroom: he is said to have shot himself with a hunting rifle. We are told he left a suicide note of “apologies,” but what he was apologizing for has never been revealed, since the note has not been released.
  • February 25 – Sergey Valter, former Party of Regions activist and Mayor of Melitopol, was found hanged hours before his trial on charges of “abuse of office” was set to begin. Whoever was responsible neglected to leave a “suicide” note.
  • February 26 – Aleksandr Bordyuga, Valter’s lawyer and former deputy chief of Melitopol police, was found in his garage, dead, another “suicide.”
  • February 26 – Oleksandr Peklushenko, a former Party of Regions member of parliament and chairman of Zaporozhye Regional State Administration, was found dead in the street with a gun wound to his neck. Officially declared a “suicide.”
  • February 28 – Mikhail Chechetov, a professor of economics and engineering, former member of parliament from the Party of Regions, and former head of the privatization board, supposedly jumped from the seventeenth floor window of his Kiev apartment. Another “suicide”!
  • March 14 – Sergey Melnichuk, a prosecutor and Party of Regions loyalist, “fell” from the ninth floor window of an apartment building in Odessa. Or was he pushed?
  • April 15 – Oleg Kalashnikov, yet another prominent Party of Regions leader, died of a gunshot wound – the eighth since the beginning of the year.

 

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