Ukraine's president demands investigation of judge's killing

KIEV Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:23am EST

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich smiles during an opening ceremony of a new terminal at Borispol airport, near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, May 28, 2012. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich smiles during an opening ceremony of a new terminal at Borispol airport, near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, May 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is urging authorities to investigate the murder of a judge who placed two anti-government protesters under house arrest.

With Ukraine's wave of unrest continuing, the murder of Oleksander Lobodenko raised concern that violence would escalate in the stand-off between the authorities and thousands of protesters.

Lobodenko, the 34-year-old judge of a court in the Poltava region in central Ukraine, was shot several times in the back by two unknown assailants near his home on Wednesday, police said in a statement.

Police said their main hypothesis was that Lobodenko had been killed because of his job. He had been involved in cases against anti-government activists who had occupied a municipal building. Opposition leaders see such statements as attempts by the authorities to discredit the protest movement.

At least six people have been killed in protests that erupted in November, when the government abandoned a plan to sign a trade treaty with the European Union and sought closer ties with Russia instead. If Lobodenko's killing was related to his prosecution of the protesters, it would be the first violent death of someone on the authorities' side since the unrest began.

A presidential order carried on Yanukovich's website called for "a prompt investigation of those responsible for this crime and bring them to justice."

Several people taking part in the protests have disappeared. Protesters blame security forces for the abductions, attacks on protesters and torching of their cars.

The president has offered an amnesty to detained protesters. It is due to expire on February 17 and is conditional upon their leaving occupied public buildings. The demonstrators have already rejected the amnesty.

(Reporting By Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Larry King)

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Comments (4)
DDV wrote:
“At least six people have been killed in protests…”
Yes, and in none of these cases Yanukovych “demanded investigation”. Can you feel now what justice looks like in Ukraina?

“The president has offered an amnesty to detained protesters…The demonstrators have already rejected the amnesty.”
The amnesty was offered with passage of a special “amnesty law” which in reality is more like legalization of taking hostages by police, and releasing the hostages after occupied by protesters government buildings (there is just one – Kyiv city council building which was occupied because President’s Regions Party cancelled in 2013 Kyiv City Major elections understanding that legally elected Kyiv Major will not support Yanukovych on the next Presidential elections) will be freed. And even these “draconian” law was mainly accepted by protesters. But all hostages are still not released by police.

I would suggest any journalist writing on Ukrainian social and political crisis come to understanding of nature of Yanukovych and his ruling Regions Party – which is in reality criminal.

Feb 13, 2014 9:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
Dron wrote:
“it would be the first violent death of someone on the authorities’ side since the unrest began.”
That statement is wrong, do your homework Reuters to avoid looking like an incompetent news agency.
To my knowledge, this is at least the 2nd or even 3rd death on the authorities side now, not the first. In January a police officer was killed on his way back from duty, or that one does not count?

Feb 13, 2014 10:27am EST  --  Report as abuse
EastandWest wrote:
@Dron Before you accuse Reuters as being incompetant, consider the
following:
#1Yanucovitch gov is very corrupt Soviet style. Lies were wholesale. eg. Hiding the Holodymor genocide for years. They have lied about protesters.
#2 Media varies greatly. There are some very biased, deceitfull sources. eg. When police attacked and protesters fought back, it was at first reported by most; that protesters started it (though there were a few government paid infiltrators who caused some disturbance).
Next day truth came out.

I have only heard that on policeman died of a heart attack. And I’ve been following VERY closely. The media does not publicize the number of activists who have been abducted, tortured and killed. A number are missing. Nor is it mentioned that the anti-protest law was passed by fraud.

Feb 13, 2014 12:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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