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Brilliant green dye attacks: Poroshenko, Avakov, Filatov, and other notable cases

Brilliant green dye attacks: Poroshenko, Avakov, Filatov, and other notable cases
Translated by: Yuri Zoria
The fifth president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, was attacked with zelenka or the dilute alcoholic solution of brilliant green dye on the day when the country celebrated the 30th anniversary of Independence on 24 August 2021. Police detained the attacker on the scene and charged him with hooliganism, which carries a maximum punishment of five years of jail time. Many Ukrainians have condemned such actions against the former president.

Recent history shows that the zelenka has long been weaponized in political battles, and not only in Ukraine. The number of such attacks in the Ukrainian scene alone is exceeded dozens.

The RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service has gathered several examples previous of brilliant green attacks.

The brilliant green dye is known to be poorly washed off the skin surface. In addition, it is dangerous to the eyes as it can cause burns (the solvent for the 1:100 antiseptic medical solution of brilliant green dye is 60% ethanol, – Ed.). However, judging by how quickly Petro Poroshenko returned to the public on Independence Day, the attack has allegedly brought no serious consequences.

Shortly after the attack, Poroshenko’s fellow party member Oleksiy Honcharenko reported that everything was fine with Petro Poroshenko, and posted a video in which the former President later appeared in front of people in Kyiv without any trace of zelenka on his face.

Ex President Petro Poroshenko after a zelenka attack on him. Kyiv, 24 August 2021. Photo: Facebook/Валера Арушанян

Honcharenko also added that he suspected the “green authorities” to be involved in the incident (green is current President Zelenskyy’s party color, – Ed.).

Here are some other examples of zelenka attacks.

1. Borys Filatov, mayor of Dnipro

Campaigning for mayor of the city of Dnipro, Filatov was a victim of brilliant green attacks several times. He never canceled the scheduled meetings after being attacked and continued them having green spots on his face and clothes.

He also reacted to the incident with Poroshenko,

“It’s not about Poroshenko’s reaction to what has happened. It’s about the actions of law enforcement agencies and political culture. No one has been punished. Police has no interest in finding those who have ordered the attacks,” Borys Filatov wrote on his Facebook page.

2. Arsen Avakov, ex-head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

Arsen Avakov can confidently give advice on how to wash off traces of the brilliant green dye, because in 2013-2014 he was repeatedly targeted by attacks of this kind.

In 2013-2014, this way of attacking politicians was very common. Almost all opposition politicians suffered from it. Arsen Avakov was a People’s Deputy from Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party and attended trials of Yulia Tymoshenko. At the time many defenders and supporters of the party leader were enduring such attacks by zelenka.

Aftermath of a zelenka attack on Arsen Avakov in Kharkiv Airport, 20 January 2014. Photo:

In 2014, Arsen Avakov was doused in green by a young woman at the Kharkiv airport.

3. Vitaliy Shabunin, head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center

The head of Anti-Corruption Action Center, Vitaliy Shabunin, was doused with brilliant green and had cakes hurled at him on 17 July 2018 at a rally that demanded the resignation of the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Nazar Kholodnytsky. After that, Shabunin reportedly needed medical assistance as the green dye got in his eyes. Police, present at the place of the action, reported that they detained several people.

4. Shuttle bus driver

A bus driver covered in zelenka who allegedly had earlier refused to transport war veterans. Photo: Facebook/Дем’ян Ганул

Not only politicians and public figures fall victim to the brilliant green attacks. Recently in Odesa Oblast, a driver of a shuttle bus came under such an attack. Earlier he refused to transport a participant of military actions. By law, Ukrainian combatants are entitled to free travel.

This outraged the public and zelenka became an instrument of mob justice. And this is not an isolated case of this kind.


5. Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dowsed in the brilliant green dye in 2017. Photo via RFE/RL

Brilliant green attacks take place not only in Ukraine. In 2017, during his presidential election campaign in Russia, zelenka was splashed on Alexei Navalny in Moscow so that he had to be hospitalized. He received a chemical burn to his right eye.

The Russian opposition leader underwent an operation in Barcelona shortly after the attack. Reportedly, there is a possibility that the brilliant green solution was mixed with some other aggressive liquid. No attackers were found.


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Translated by: Yuri Zoria
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