Ukrainian authorities have arrested a former politician’s aide in connection with the death of anti-corruption activist Kateryna Gandziuk, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s office announced on Monday. Igor Pavlovsky, a former assistant to ruling party MP Mykola Palamarchuk, was arrested on Saturday in the southern city of Kherson where Gandziuk was attacked with acid last July before dying of her injuries in a kiev hospital in November.
A spokeswoman for Ukraine’s attorney general said that a court ordered Pavlovsky’s detention without bail on suspicion of being involved in the attack on Gandziuk.
Gandziuk, 33, worked as a counselor for the mayor of Kherson. She was leaving home early on the morning of 31 July when a man threw a litre of acid on her and then fled. She was immediately hospitalised in a serious condition, with injuries to 30 percent of the body, including her upper torso, arms and face. She died of organ failure and chemical burns on 4 November.
Gandziuk had established herself as a prominent anti-corruption campaigner focusing especially on abuses in the country’s law enforcement agencies.
In August, police arrested five people suspected of being involved in the attack on Gandziuk – all former veterans of the war in eastern Ukraine. Four of them were detained for 60 days, while the fifth suspect was placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Igor Pavlovsky was first mentioned in relation to the attack in a Facebook post by a group dedicated to seeking justice for Kateryna Gandziuk. The group, run by friends of the slain activist who say they have no confidence in the police investigation into her murder, accused Pavlovsky of being the middle-man between the person who ordered the killing and the people who carried it out.
Pavlovsky has denied any involvement in the killing, calling the charges ‘heresy’. He said that he didn’t know Gandziuk and never met her, although he admitted knowing Sergiy Torbin, one of the men arrested in August, who is accused of organising the attack.
Ukraine has seen an increase in attacks on anti-corruption activists and campaigners in the last few years.
In 2016 journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed by a car bomb near his home in Kiev.
In 2017, the body of human rights activist Iryna Nozdrovska, who had been stabbed to death, was found in a river outside the capital.
And in July, Vitaliy Oleshko, a local activist and former pro-government volunteer fighter in eastern Ukraine, was shot dead outside a hotel in the southeastern city of Berdyansk.