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Former Kherson council head, his adviser get ten-year sentence for activist Handziuk’s murder

Kateryna Handziuk. Photo: Facebook of Kateryna Handziuk
Former Kherson council head, his adviser get ten-year sentence for activist Handziuk’s murder

On 26 June, the Dnipro District Court of Kyiv announced the verdict in the case of Kherson activist Kateryna Handziuk’s murder, which happened back in 2018, finding two former Kherson regional officials guilty.

The former head of the Kherson Regional Council, Vladyslav Manger, was found guilty of ordering the attack. Meanwhile, his assistant Oleksii Levin was found guilty of organizing it. The court has sentenced them to 10 years in prison, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne reports.

Magner Levin Handziuk's murder verdict
Vladyslav Magner and Oleksiy Levin with their lawyers during the announcement of the court’s verdict. Photo: Suspilne

The Dnipro District Court of Kyiv also ordered both defendants to pay 15 million UAH ($406,000) in material damage to the victim’s family.

What is the case of Kateryna Handziuk

Kateryna Handziuk, an official of the Kherson City Council and activist, was doused with concentrated sulfuric acid on 31 July 2018. Kateryna, 34, died in a Kyiv hospital from a blood clot on 4 November of the same year.

Law enforcement officers identified the suspects in the organization and execution of the attack on Handziuk. They were Mykyta Grabchuk, Volodymyr Vasianovych, Viacheslav Vyshnevskyi, Viktor Horbunov and Serhiy Torbin. They pleaded guilty and made a deal with the investigation, receiving 3 to 6.5 years in prison. The suspected co-organizers of the crime were Ihor Pavlovsky, a former aide to MP Palamarchuk, and Oleksii Levin, an adviser to the head of the Kherson Regional Council, and the customer was Vladyslav Manger, the head of the Kherson Regional Council. Before the attack, Handziuk accused Levin and Manger of involvement in the Oleshky forest’s arson for unimpeded write-off and sawing.

Pavlovsky, in October 2020, was sentenced conditionally. He was found guilty of concealing the facts about the attack on Handziuk. During interrogation, Pavlovsky said that Munger and his adviser Levin were behind the attack because Handziuk “barked too much.”

Levin was hiding from the investigation abroad. He was detained in Bulgaria on 24 January 2020. Bulgarian law enforcement officials reported identifying Levin by fingerprints because the suspect had changed his appearance. Interpol transferred Levin to Ukraine, and he was eventually taken into custody. According to the investigation, he followed Handziuk and organized the attack on the activist.

Manger was taken into custody in June 2020. He was accused of ordering the attack on Handziuk.

Friends and relatives of Kateryna Handziuk believe that the former head of the Kherson Regional State Administration, Andrii Gordeev, his deputy Yevhen Ryshchuk, and law enforcement officers who helped Levin escape were also involved in the crime.

The case of the attack on Kateryna Handziuk was submitted to the Dniprovskyi District Court of Kyiv in August 2020.

In February 2023, activists of the initiative group “Who Ordered Katya Handziuk?” stated that the defendant’s lawyers were delaying the case.

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