Kyiv Protesters Demand Investigation Into Ukrainian Lawyer’s Murder
2 January, 2018

Around 200 people converged in the center of Kyiv today to demand justice for a Ukrainian lawyer who was found dead on New Year’s day.

Just days before her death, Iryna Nozdrovska helped prevent the release of Dmytro Rossoshansky, the nephew of an influential judge, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for killing Nozdrovska’s sister, Svitlana Sapatanyska, in an automotive accident.

Then, on December 29, Nozdrovska disappeared after leaving work. Three days later, her naked body was found in a river near Kyiv, according to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Protesters gathered in central Kyiv to demand justice for Iryna Nozdrovska. Photo: Dmytro Replianchuk/Hromadske

Nozdrovska apparent murder sparked immediate outrage in Ukraine and abroad. Protesters gathered in front of the Kyiv regional police headquarters calling for a fair investigation into murder of the 38-year-old lawyer. Although a criminal investigation has already been opened, many fear the process will be obstructed by corruption.

Regional police chief Dmytro Tsenov attended the demonstration, but was heckled by the crowd of protesters, who demanded that he and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov resign. Tsenov said that, in the past several days, law enforcement had questioned around 50 witnesses.

Nozdrovska’s case appears to be a particularly glaring example of lawlessness in Ukraine. During the two years she worked on the case against Rossoshansky, the lawyer received near constant threats from the convicted killer’s family and friends. Despite strong evidence, it took almost two years for the courts to hand down a prison sentence for Rossoshansky — a result that was largely thanks to Nozdrovska.

Rossoshansky was driving under the influence when he struck and killed 26-year-old Sapatanyska on September 30, 2015. He reportedly saw Sapatanyska, but failed to brake for her. After hitting her, he phoned his father instead of calling an ambulance.

Rossoshansky was initially placed under house arrest and only received a prison sentence in May 2017. As the nephew of Serhiy Kuprienko, the chief of the Vyshhorod District Court, it appeared that he might escape justice.

However, on December 27, a judge rejected Rossoshansky’s appeal against his sentence. The next day, Nozdrovska thanked the judges in a Facebook post, describing the ruling as one of the “extremely rare fair decisions.”

According to her post, Rossoshansky and his friends, who were in court that day, all expected him to be freed under an amnesty law, which can be used by prisoners with certain medical conditions.

/ By Natalie Vikhrov