Ukrainian volunteer fighters are facing life in jail in pro Russian journalist murder case

Graffiti with portraits of Medvedko and Polishchuk on Kyiv's streets 


Article by: Ihor Lutsenko
Andriy Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk, Ukrainian fighters who volunteered to defend their country, Europe, and the whole civilized world against Russian aggression, have spent the last six months in jail. They are suspected of murdering pro-Russian propagandist Oles Buzyna. Although there is no reliable evidence of their involvement in the incident, prosecution calls for Medvedko’s and Polishchuk’s life imprisonment.
Oles Buzyna at a presentation of his books

Oles Buzyna holds “Resurrection of Malorossiya” at a presentation of his books

On 16 April 2015 journalist and writer Oles Buzyna was shot dead at the entrance of his home in Kyiv. A few hours after the attack Russian President Vladimir Putin already knew the details of this murder, as he commented at his press conference broadcasted live. Despite a special plan of interception in hot pursuit, Ukrainian police failed to capture the attackers.  Security experts made an announcement: the murder was likely committed by the Kremlin secret services with the intention of fueling public chaos and destabilization in Ukrainian society. By that time, Russia had already occupied the Crimea and was sowing seeds of war in Donbas.

Only two months after the attack, on June 18, police arrested two men in Kyiv. They were fighters from Ukrainian volunteer units, Andriy Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk. The Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov openly called them murderers of Buzyna displaying utter disregard for the presumption of innocence. The two soldiers were beaten during their arrest; the car in which Medvedko was transported was shot at. The court hearing held the same day decided to arrest the two suspects and detain them for two months.

The detention was prolonged twice despite the appeals. Thus, without conviction Medvedko and Polishchuk spent more than six months behind bars. This time was needed for the investigators to collect the additional evidence they were lacking. In this light, Avakov’s declaration of the suspects’ guilt on the day of the arrest was misleading Ukrainian society and the international community about this high profile case.

Read also: Preliminary naming of Buzina’s “murderers” replaces legal practice with “media justice”

Andriy Medvedko’s and Denis Polishchuk’s innocence is easily proven by the testimony of defense witnesses from the crime scene who point to other men, as well as by their alibi confirmed by at least two people who spoke with the soldiers in the morning on the day of the murder eight hundred kilometers away from Kyiv. In addition, the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies are inconsistent; defense lawyers have reasonably proven that the interrogation protocols were falsified by the prosecutors.

The trials of Medvedko and Polishchuk are lead by judges who for many years faithfully served the regime of President Yanukovych, now fugitive, who is a major suspect in the case of mass executions during the Euromaidan protests. Most of these judges are being prosecuted or having their professional licenses revoked because of their obviously illegal decision against activists in 2013 and 2014. Prosecutors and investigators were also selected among those who supported the previous criminal regime. During the court hearings they often exhibited their outright hostility toward the suspects. After all, before the war started, Medvedko and Polishchuk were active participants in the Euromaidan Revolution.

A march demanding to free Polishchuk and Buzyna, held on 12 September 2015 in Kharkiv. Photo: STATUS QUO

A march demanding to free Polishchuk and Buzyna, held on 12 September 2015 in Kharkiv. Photo: STATUS QUO

Several Ukrainian MP’s including the imprisoned Nadiya Savchenko, other volunteer fighters, artists, and public figures are demanding a transparent investigation of this case.  Even the mother of Buzyna has repeatedly stated that she did not think Medvedko and Polishchuk murdered her son and demanded that the authorities find the real killers.

Nevertheless, the prosecution is asking for a life imprisonment for both soldiers. As a result of the corrupt and biased judiciary, these two young patriots of Ukraine who put their lives on the line in the battle against Kremlin hordes defending their country, Europe and the whole free world, are facing a life behind bars.


Ihor Lutsenko is a Euromaidan activist, journalist, and Ukrainian MP


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