An Odessa prosecutor reportedly took his life in a 9-storey fall today. This is just the latest in a wave of strange suicides of former and current Ukrainian public officials.
It brings the bodycount to no less than seven recent deaths, barely reported by the Western press:
- Oleksandr Peklushenko, former governor of the Zaporozhye and member of Yanukovich’s party, died from a gunshot to the neck on 12 March.
- A member of Ukraine’s Party of the Regions, he was being investigated over the dispersal of protesters last year.
- Stanislav Melnyk, 53, an ex-MP was found shot dead in his bathroom on 9 March
- Mykhaylo Chechetov, former party deputy chairman, died after apparently jumping from a window in his 17th-floor flat on 28 February; he had been accused of abuse of office and fraud
- Serhiy Valter, a mayor in the south-eastern city of Melitopol, was found hanged on 25 February; he too had been accused of abuse of office
- Oleksandr Bordyuh, a former police deputy chief in Melitopol linked to Mr Valter, was found dead at his home on 26 February
- Oleksiy Kolesnyk, ex-head of Kharkiv’s regional government was found hanged on 29 January
As in any epidemics, informing the public must be done after careful weighing the benefits of cautioning the group in risk against the possibility to cause panic. We certainly commend the Guardian for avoiding the latter. This helps spare valuable resources for waging the really needed scaremongering about the “Russian threat and aggression”.
But why do former Yanukovich buddies, as well as lesser cogs in the Ukrainian state machine just take the shortcut to eternal peace? Here is the analysis of 112.ua, a Ukrainian news portal:
After Mikhail Chechetov jumped out of the window of his apartment, Stanislav Melnik and Alexander Peklushenko shot themselves. And on 27 August last year, the former head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine Valentina Semeniuk-Samsonenko did the same. Were these suicides committed on their own, or was there pressure on these influential people of the former regime to take their lives? Investigators will have to find this out, and we shall try to recall who the deceased were and what could have led them to commit suicide.
The “Unfeminine” death of Valentina Semeniuk-Samsonenko
On August 27, 2014 the former head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine Valentina Semeniuk-Samsonenko was found dead in her home in the village of Chaika, near Kiev. The death was caused by a gunshot to her head. Prior to this, in the center of Kiev Valentina Semeniuk was attacked by unknown men in camouflage uniforms and masks. According to her own words, after a rally near the Presidential Administration Semeniuk first fell down and then in was attacked right next to her car.
Those who knew Valentina Petrovna find it difficult to believe that she could take her life. Semeniuk was a deeply religious person, who, in principle, could not even consider such a way to “escape” from problems, say relatives of the victim. Some skeptics also note the absolute “unfeminine” method she presumably used to kill herself.
Oleksandr Moroz believes that Semeniuk had enough enemies to be afraid of – she acquired them due to her principled leadership while heading the State Property Fund. One especially memorable story was related to the second sale of “Krivorozhstal” steel mill Valentina Semeniuk was dead against; that cost her the support of Yulia Tymoshenko, who later helped Semeniuk lose her job. Semeniuk subsequently demanded that the mill be renationalized due to contract default – closure of social programs and failure to make promised investments. “I am sure her death was related to the fact she had documents on the predatory privatization of state enterprises”, says Natalia Vitrenko.
There is another version that was discussed among her party comrades: Semeniuk could have become the leader of the Socialist Party. Alexander Moroz actually retired. And in the summer there was still a threat to ban the Communist Party, which could encourage the left to unite under the roof of the Socialist Party – this had already happened in 1991-1994. Then the Socialist Party immediately became the most popular force in the country.
Chechetov – the privatization and manual voting expert
On the night of February 28, 2015 another former head of the State Property Fund committed suicide. Mikhail Chechetov jumped out of the window of his apartment on the 17th floor of the building on the 2 Mishugi Street in Kiev. Chechetov’s wife was on the lower floor of the apartment, woke up at 1:30 am and didn’t find her husband beside her, looked around the place and saw an open window on the second floor, as well as her husband’s slippers.
Anton Gerashchenko, member of the board of the Ministry of Interior said that interviews with Chechetov’s wife and others who saw him the day before,”revealed that the ex-deputy was in a deep depression after the start of the criminal proceedings on suspicion of his abuse of power during the “manual “voting of 16 January 2014” (when the Rada briefly adopted special powers for Yanukovich). In addition, Gerashchenko said that the Prosecutor General’s Office reported on preparation of new charges against Chechetov. “I have no moral strength to live anymore. I’m leaving. I think this would be better for everyone. Thank you all for your support,” the deceased wrote in a suicide note.
However, except for “stormy” Chechetov activity in the Verkhovna Rada, there are other facts that mix his suicide with politics. From September 1999 to April 2003. Chechetov was the first deputy chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, and between April 2003 and April 2005. – Head of the Fund. According to the “Ukrainian Pravda”, as head of the SPF Chechetov had to perform the privatization of state assets under the pressure of oligarchs. On August 25, 2005 Mikhail Chechetov signed a prosecutor’s protocol, admitting that under the pressure of Viktor Medvedchuk, the former head of the Presidential Administration, he was forced to privatize the country houses in the Pushta-Vodica in favor of the Dynamo Kiev football club, but intentionally did it in such a way that “when V. Medvedchuk ceases to influence the processes in the country”, the state would be able to return its property.
Chechetov also made depositions on the privatization of “Kryvorizhstal” and NFP, which featured the names of Victor Pinchuk, and former business partners of Rinat Akhmetov and Sergey Taruta. He said the privatization was carried out at the direction of the former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma (the plant was sold for only USD 800 million). Mikhail Chechetov stated that the the then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych got interested in the privatization process of coal mine “Pavlogradugol” and the consortium led by Rinat Akhmetov had to win the tender privatization. The ex-chairman of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Alexander Efremov requested that the share of the private investor in the privatization of the “Severodonetsk association “Azot” (chemicals) be increased from 40% to 60%, which was supported by Kuchma.
It is possible that Chechetov was driven to suicide because another wave of revelations of facts on the illegal privatization could have had more serious consequences than in 2004. The Chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration Igor Kolomoisky said that the recent deaths of the former heads of State Property Fund Valentina Semeniuk-Samsonenko and Mikhail Chechetov were not accidental and due to the fact that they knew way too much about the privatization process in Ukraine. “This is something the police should investigate, but I believe that there was at least incitement to suicide. Because they just knew all the secrets of privatization. Moreover, Semeniuk was going to be a witness in an English Court on my side. I don’t want to implicate anyone, this is a case for the investigating authorities. But they could tell a lot about privatization. That is, who called who gave the command, who uses the “phone law”, who called over the “red line”, or the “two hundred” numbers’, Kolomoisky said.
(It is important to note that Kolomoisky is considered to control the 112.ua media group. This somewhat explains the audacity of this report – OffGuardian)
Akhmetov’s guard suicide
A two-term Rada Deputy from the (Yanukovich)Party of Regions, 53-year-old Stanislav Melnik was shot on March 10 in the Ukrainka town of the Obukhov district, which is 38 kilometers away from Kiev. ‘His wife came to their apartment, opened the door and saw her husband lying in the bathroom tub. At first she thought he was sick but later she found a carbine in his hands and saw his wounds, as well as a suicide note’ the police report states. The police also confirmed that Melnik asked for forgiveness in his suicide note.
For six years Melnik headed the joint venture “Donetsk brewery” owned by Rinat Akhmetov, famous for the “Sarmat” lager. Since 2005 and until his election as a people’s deputy, he held the position of General Director of Akhmetov’s “Lux” Plc. in Donetsk. Before being elected to the parliament he was a member of the Donetsk City Council in 2002-2006. Media say that Melnik enjoyed a special arrangement of the then governor Viktor Yanukovych and standing behind him billionaire Rinat Akhmetov.
Interestingly, Melnik became a deputy not least because of the events in the “Lux”. In early 2005, Stanislav Melnik became the “right hand” of the president of FC “Shakhtar” (Donetsk) Rinat Akhmetov. Officially, the new position was called “CEO of the closed joint-stock company” Lux “. Together with Akhmetov Melnik experienced a period of searches and seizures in the Donbass, which included search and seizure of documents in the main office of “Lux”. His old faction fellow Bakhteyeva said that in the Rada Melnik influenced the position of the first deputy chairman of the Party of Regions Mikhail Chechetov.
What prompted Melnik to commit suicide is not clear. One version circulating in the Ukrainian capital points at the direct relations between Melnik and the security structures of Rinat Akhmetov and “Lux” Plc. Exactly three years ago the “Security Holding” Ltd. was created in Donetsk. The company is registered at same address as Akhmetov’s SKM holding. At that time, in Ukraine there were rumors about the imminent ousting of Rinat Akhmetov from the inner circle of President Yanukovich. The only founder of “Security holding”, according to the State Register of legal entities, was the people’s deputy of Ukraine Stanislav Melnik. It is the “Lux” company which holds the private property of the Donetsk oligarch Akhmetov. Melnik, according to some media reports, was in charge of recruiting men for the physical protection of the business empire of Rinat Akhmetov.
Peklushenko: Oncology or Euromaidan?
On March 12, at his home the ex-governor of the Zaporozhye region and former Regions Party member Alexander Peklushenko was found dead with a gun wound to his neck. A criminal case for “premeditated murder” was initiated, although the basic version is one of suicide. Another one is an incitement to suicide.
Peklushenko was about to be charged in organizing the police action against the Euromaidan in Zaporozhye in January 2014. He headed the Zaporozhye Regional State Administration from 2011 to 2014. He was deputy whip of the Regionals in the IVth Rada.
In January 2014 Peklushenko, then Governor of Zaporozhye, came to the local Euromaidan rally and said he would not lay down the powers of governor, and that he had “lived, lives and will die” with the membership card of the Party of Regions. On the same day there the forceful dispersal of the Zaporozhye Euromaidan took place. “Perhaps the reason for the suicide could be his the reluctance to face criminal responsibility for the illegal dispersal and maiming of Euromaidan activists in January-February 2014,” the member of the MIA Board Anton Gerashchenko said.
On his “Facebook” page journalist Artyom Shevchenko, referring to the Zaporozhye region prosecutor Alexander Shatsky, said that in the morning the victim called a doctor in the city of Zaporozhye complaining of heart pains. “The doctors evaluated his condition as psychologically depressed” – wrote Shevchenko.
Zaporozhye’s portal Z-city reports that before his death Peklushenko was depressed because of a serious illness, presumably oncology. In recent years the ex-governor was seriously ill and flown abroad for treatment. ‘For some time before his death, Alexander Peklushenko called a loved one and asked him to come to him. A friend of Alexander Nikolayevich, came to the house and discovered the corpse of the ex-governor’ the source said.
It is also noted that, unlike the other Regionals, Alexander Peklushenko did not send his relatives abroad.
Given Ukraine’s dynamic recent history, it is no wonder very few media remind of another “suicide”, conveniently committed by one of the Maidan’s controversial “heroes”. Olexander Muzychko, or Sahsko Bilyi, shot himself twice when police officers were “trying to detain him” on 24 March 2014 after he became a disgrace due to his acts of revolutionary violence and looting.
The influential Russian blogger El-Murid describes the recent suicide wave in Ukraine as a natural development given the degradation of the country’s politics: “The elite is drying up and shrinking so unnecessary people get treated in accordance with the spirit of the times. They have no way back to political life, there is no room for them, so no backstage agreements will hold.
“Savagery of manners is on the rise, and if the Ukrainian nomenclature deliberately chose the path of social degradation, degradation inevitably will affect it too. The glamorous times of initial accumulation come back, no one is going to be nice to competitors. The current wave of deaths only looks a bit more respectable than what is traditional for Ukraine – suicides with two shots to the head or heart. We can see some improvement of style.
“Of course, words neither the victims, nor the murderers deserve any kind words – it is by their joint efforts that a huge country turned into a cesspool. They get what they have achieved through their own labors for the good of the homeland – and that is that. Against the background of the genocide in the East and the mass death of the “revolutionary masses” (volunteer battalions), the passing of those who initiated the events, looks like a sheer trifle. And trifle they are.”