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Purely Ukrainian murder of lawyer Grabovsky

“The return to intimidation and killing of dissidents and now even lawyers indicates that anti-democratic, totalitarian trends are on the rise in Ukraine. These trends do not align with European norms of morality and law – the most popular topic discussed by the Ukrainian government.” This is how the Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the latest high-profile killing in Ukraine. This time, it was Yuri Grabovsky, the lawyer, who defended Russian citizen Alexander Alexandrov, whom the Ukrainian authorities called “a special agent of the Russian military intelligence.” The lawyer’s body was found 150km from Kiev two weeks after he was reported missing. A criminal case was filed over “premeditated murder.”

According to Anatolii Matios, the chief military prosecutor of Ukraine, two young men at the age of 19 and 26 were detained on suspicion of the murder. One of the detainees used fraudulent service certificate of a law-enforcer. As for the theories, it would be very strange if Matios did not see “the Kremlin’s traces” in the murder. During the last two years, Ukraine has been blaming the Kremlin for all its problems.  The chief military prosecutor said, “the operation was planned by Ukrainians and by Russian security forces at the final stage of court proceedings against the Russians security officers.”

Furthermore, Matios even linked Grabovsky’s murder to a recent attack of nationalists against an LGBT action in Lviv saying, “all this is done to discredit Ukraine” ahead of the April 6 referendum in the Netherlands for ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. 

Allegations were made also against the political elite under Viktor Yanukovych. Matios said in a Facebook post that the Russian mass media “are using” ex-prime minister Mykola Azarov and former member of the Party of Regions Vladimir Oleynik, who actively comment on the Grabovsky’s murder, “to blacken Ukraine once again.” Such absurd information leaks by Matios pursue two goals. The first is to avert suspicions of the lawyer’s murder by the incumbent authorities of Ukraine and cause disturbance over it. Besides, Matios has become a media person lately and he does not miss a chance to make publicity moves. The point is that Anatoly Matios claims the vacant position of the prosecutor general (it was known yet two months ago that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, Petro Poroshenko’s relative, would be dismissed).

As for the real theories of the murder, it is most probable that the lawyer was murdered by ultra-nationalist groups because of his professional activity. Not so long ago, a Kiev-based writer – journalist Oles Buzina was cynically murdered for ideological reasons by members of the “volunteer” battalions integrated with the Interior Ministry, so they were representatives of the government, law-enforcers, who returned form the so-called “ATO zone.”  Ideological reasons (murder of the ‘defender of the aggressors’) were probably overlapped by the profit-motivated crime - a solid amount of money was stolen from Grabovsky’s office. 

Meantime, the lawyer’s colleagues say Ukraine’s security services are behind his murder. They say Grabovsky had repeatedly expressed concerns over threats to his life. He said prosecutors sought to took the cases of Alexandrov and Yerofeev from him. In addition, some sources say Grabovsky actually failed Alexandrov’s case, which could become a motive for his murder.

As for the political and legal consequences of Grabovsky’s death, there are some that are worth mentioning. For instance, less people will now want to defend the persons imprisoned in Kiev on the basis of “political” articles, considering that the lawyers of dissidents are constantly pressed and frightened by both “patriotic public” and officials.

Second, the verdicts against Alexandrov and Yerofeev have been postponed for unknown period of time in view of Grabovsky’s death.  Consequently, the option of exchanging them with Nadezhda Savchenko has been shelved too, which is in favor of President Poroshenko.

For conclusion, one should not expect the results of the investigation in Grabovsky’s murder and punishment of those guilty as long as the “Maidan” representatives are in power in Ukraine waging a policy of state terror against dissidents and indulging ultra-right groups, which are now their fundamental audience. There will be a chance to expose this criminal case only after a power shift in Ukraine, in two-three electoral cycles.

Igor Federovsky, Kiev

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