On January 19, in Kharkiv, around 19:00, an explosion occurred in the courtyard of the Moskovskyi district court. At the time people were just leaving the last court session — most of them activists of Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector). As a result, 14 people were taken to hospitals, four in serious condition. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has announced the launch of antiterrorist measures in the city. The explosion is being investigated as a terrorist act.
Olena Kovalova, head physician at a (local) emergency hospital said the victims of the explosion received multiple shrapnel wounds to limbs, body and face. Doctors had performed surgeries late into the night and did not wish to discuss the status of their patients at this time. It is suspected people had been injured by an improvised explosive device that had been stuffed with iron fragments. Among the injured were activists of Pravyi Sector, including girls, and one bystander.
Before ambulances arrived, first aid was provided by police and soldiers of the Azov battalion, witnesses reported.
“I was still in the courthouse when I first heard the explosion,” said lawyer Yuriy Nikonov. “The explosion happened when the court hearing participants and picketers were coming out. There were all kinds of injuries to legs, arms, and chest. I saw police providing first aid to people, bandaging legs,” he reported.
Witnesses said the explosion could be heard when people were leaving the courtroom, after a hearing in the case of social activist Mykhailo Sokolov, who had been an observer from the Svoboda Party during the last presidential election, and who is now suspected of illegal possession of weapons.
SBU advisor Markian Lubkivkyi reported on Facebook that an antiterrorist operation has been in effect since Monday evening, January 19.
“Dear friends, I’d like to share with you a joint urgent message from the Chairman of the Security Service, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, and the Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), Arsen Avakov, regarding the explosion near Moskovskyi District Court,” he wrote. “The head of SBU and the MIA have announced the creation of a separate (investigative) group that includes representatives of the SBU, the MIA, and prosecutors. Ongoing emergency anti-terrorist measures are being implemented. We ask everyone for calm and restraint,” he said.
According to the MIA Deputy Chief for the Kharkiv Oblast, Yuriy Hladyk, technical specialists will soon be able to announce findings regarding the explosive device itself.
“A little later we will provide more details on whether this was an explosive device, a specialized bomb, or an improvised device. It was planted near the exit from the courtyard in the path in front of the gates. This is why we have so many injured, because this explosive device was positioned near the area where people would be passing by,” Hladyk told journalists.
Acting Regional Prosecutor Artem Stepanov announced that the SBU would investigate the explosion as a “terrorist act” according to article 158 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
MP Anton Herashchenko is convinced the terrorist act was deliberately planned because of the court hearing involving Ukrainian patriots, and that this act was a response by Putin and his terrorists to the Sunday, January 18, march against terror by thousands of Kharkiv residents .
“I’m appealing to members of the terrorist group responsible for today’s terrorist act in Kharkiv.” he wrote on Facebook. ” I am certain you will read this message. The first one of you who informs on the other members of the group will be relieved of responsibility for the commission of this terrorist act if he reveals his accomplices and those who helped in the preparation and commission of this terrorist attack. I guarantee it,” he wrote.
Pro-Russian activists in the social networks called the terrorist act in Kharkiv “another provocation by the Ukrainian putschists and an internal confrontation between right-wing groups.”