Left-Wing Activist Key Suspect in Attack on Soldier
10 May, 2018

A recent attack in Kyiv has sparked discussions on rising confrontation between members of right- and left-wing groups in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, a soldier, who previously fought against Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east and co-founder of a far-right radical group, was brutally attacked. The main suspect is a self-confessed member of a radical anarchist organization.

According to the police, Dmytro Ivashchenko, also known by his nickname “Verbych,” was attacked by three men and two women wearing masks. The perpetrators rushed to unsuspecting Ivaschenko with a knife and stabbed him in the back. Ivashchenko, who received serious wounds, was immediately taken to a hospital.

"I was hit in the back with a knife... I turned around, they sprayed me in the eyes," he told Hromadske on May 4. "I could slightly see out of one eye, the left. And then there was a series of blows from hammers and a knife." 

Ivashchenko also wrote on his Facebook page that the perpetrators were filming the attack.

The suspects

The police have opened a criminal proceeding qualifying the May 3 attack as hooliganism, committed by a group of people using an object specially adapted and prepared in advance for inflicting bodily harm. Perpetrators of a crime like this can face jail terms of three to seven years.

Two of the five suspects have already been identified by the police. The main one, Kateryna Lapinska, was detained in Kharkiv on May 6 and sentenced to 30 days in prison until the case is investigated further.

Lapinska confesses to being a member of a radical anarchist organization. But the investigation has also shown that she is the daughter of Serhiy Lapinskyi, an official from the Ministry of Defense.

Another identified suspect, Russian citizen Viacheslav Lukichev, who allegedly organized the crime, escaped to Poland.

The motive

According to the investigator, the attack was committed on political grounds. 

“We have information that those involved in the attack are members of left-wing radical groups,” he said. “[Lapinska told us that they] didn’t like [Ivashchenko] wearing clothes with nationalist symbols.”

Ivashchenko, who received serious wounds after the May 3 attack, was immediately taken to a hospital. Photo credit: HROMADSKE

Not only a war veteran, Ivashchenko is also a co-founder of the far-right radical group C14. This raises the question of whether these left-wing radicals are trying to self-organize to fight those with far-right views in Ukraine.

READ MORE: A Fine Line: Defining Nationalism and Neo-Nazism in Ukraine

The attack has already been condemned by “Nihilist,” an anti-authoritarian radical left-wing website. They published a statement saying that the attack is “disgusting” and “cannot be justified.” 

The key suspect was identified as Kateryna Lapinska, a member of a radical anarchist organization. She was arrested on May 6 and is now awaiting trial. Photo credit: General Prosecutor's Office

“Such an attack is disgusting as a separate incident and is also inadmissible as a manifestation of the trend of hate-based street violence," their Facebook page reads. "The practice of hate-based street attacks has nothing to do with armed struggle for freedom, independence, equality, social justice or territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

But there is another view on the attack. Some activists insist on looking for the Russian trail in this story. Ukraine’s Security Service confirmed the organizer of the attack to be a Russian citizen. Moreover, the investigation verified that Lapinska herself has just returned from Russia.

Ivashchenko also believes he was attacked by “pro-Russian youngsters.”

“I was wearing camouflage trousers, so it was clear that I am related to the military,” he said.

He later reiterated on his Facebook page that the attack was conducted on political grounds.

“The main thing now is to find the guilty and punish them according to the law instead of chasing everybody with left-wing views. By law, this is not hooliganism but a murder attempt on political grounds.”

/By Mariia Ulianovska