Ukrainian NGOs demand proper investigation into devastating fire of anti corruption fighter’s house

Vitaliy Shabunin's house was demolished in a night fire. Photo: Skhemy 

Civil Society

Ukrainian NGOs demand a proper independent investigation into a fire that demolished leading anti-corruption activist Vitaliy Shabunin’s house. Their statement was sent to the police, public prosecutor office, the president, and parliament. 

Shabunin is the head of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, a leading Ukrainian NGO fighting against corruption. 

On the morning of 23 July, he informed that at night his house was burned that night. He, his wife, and the children were not at home. His parents were, but managed to escape. A neighbor heard an explosion.

Outstripping the official reaction from the police which might have blamed a gas explosion, Shabunin said that two weeks ago, the gas service checked the counter and all the connections.

Later, the co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre Daria Kaleniuk informed that remnants of explosives were found on the place of the fire. 

The next day police refuted the information on remnants being found. 

The activists are confident that the arson of Shabunin’s house was an encroachment on his life and part of a systematic campaign to intimidate anti-corruption activists. As well, the representatives of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre are worrying that the police will try to obstruct a proper investigation.

The organization and Shabunin himself experienced numerous attacks and smear campaigns in media.

At the same time, numerous attacks on other activists are not investigated properly. The Human Rights Centre ZMINA registered 83 cases of persecution of activists in Ukraine in 2019. 29 of them were related to anti-corruption activists. In the first half of 2020, ZMINA registered 48 cases of pressure on activists. 12 incidents were related to anti-corruption activists. 

More than 30 organizations signed the statement. You can read the full text here.

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