Ukraine claims it has caught killer of campaigning lawyer

Father of man who killed Iryna Nozdrovska's sister is charged with her murder

Kateryna Nozdrovska, the mother of Iryna Nozdrovska, reacts during the funeral ceremony in Demydiv village of Kiev’s area, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Kateryna Nozdrovska, the mother of Iryna Nozdrovska, reacts during the funeral ceremony in Demydiv village of Kiev’s area, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

 

Ukrainian police claim to have caught the killer of campaigning lawyer Iryna Nozdrovska, whose brutal murder appalled the nation and piled pressure on its beleaguered security services.

The body of Ms Nozdrovska (38) was found with multiple stab wounds in a river outside Kiev on January 1st, three days after she was last seen alive.

Ms Nozdrovska was murdered shortly after campaigning successfully to prevent the release from prison of Dmytro Rossoshansky, who was jailed for seven years last May for killing her sister in 2015 while driving drunk.

On Tuesday, Mr Rossoshansky’s father, Yuri, was remanded in custody for two months for the alleged murder of Ms Nozdrovska. Ukrainian media reported that he did not deny the charge in court.

Friends and colleagues of Ms Nozdrovska said Mr Rossoshansky had threatened her for campaigning against his son – the nephew of a judge in Kiev region – whom she accused of using family connections to try to evade punishment.

A host of reformist deputies and activists called for a swift and professional investigation into the murder by Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies, which have failed to solve a series of high-profile murders and other major cases since the country’s 2014 revolution, which was fuelled by demands for an end to corruption and cronyism.

‘No confession’

“There has been no confession. We identified the suspect solely thanks to the mass of material evidence collected,” Ukraine’s deputy police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said on Tuesday.

“The suspect is co-operating with the investigation. He has admitted his guilt, but does not repent.”

Hours after Ms Nozdrovska’s funeral, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko praised police and investigators for their “brilliant work, their quick reaction”.

“I think this swift resolution demonstrates the extremely high potential of the reformed national police force,” he added, claiming that the case would “increase trust in the authorities and trust in the national police”.

When news of the arrest broke, however, Anatoly Khudyakov, a lawyer for Ms Nozdrovska’s relatives, said he and they doubted that Yuri Rossoshansky was the killer.

Amnesty

Mr Khudyakov said the lawyer’s body was found close to the Rossoshansky family home, as if left here to throw suspicion on to them, and that they had no obvious motive for killing her now because Dmytro Rossoshansky still had a chance of being released soon under amnesty.

“To say his father had a motive for brutally murdering Nozdrovska is quite a stretch,” he said, calling that scenario “the easiest, simplest version [of events], which was obvious”.

Ms Nozdrovska’s relatives “want to get the real picture” of her murder and “not be given a scapegoat on whom it’s easy to hang the case”, Mr Khudyakov added.

Key cases that have been stymied in Ukraine in recent years include investigations into the deaths of more than 100 people during the revolution, and the assassination of journalist Pavel Sheremet in central Kiev in 2016.

“You recall the very painful case of Pavel Sheremet, and we should also ... do everything to ensure the murderers do not escape responsibility,” Mr Poroshenko said.