Oleksiy Levin, a suspect in the murder of activist Kateryna Handziuk, has been extradited from Bulgaria to Ukraine, reports the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). “Workers from the National Bureau of Interpol have, in the prescribed manner, delivered and handed over [the suspect] to the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General’s Office. Moskalenko (Levin) will be transferred to a temporary holding facility. A court will soon assign pre-trial detention measures for him,” reads a press statement issued by the SBU.
Levin in Bulgaria
Levin had been living in south-west Bulgaria, in a city called Burgas. He had been in hiding from Ukrainian authorities for over a year. He’d changed his facial structure with the help of plastic surgery – though he was found by Bulgarian authorities, working off an Interpol notice, thanks to Levin’s fingerprints.
Levin claimed that he was actually living in Bulgaria because of his wife’s medical condition, though this didn’t seem to affect the Bulgarian courts, who ruled in favor of his extradition after a month of deliberations.
Levin has maintained his innocence in the face of Ukrainian allegations, and had appealed to the Bulgarian justice system for what he claims will be the basis of a lawsuit against Bulgaria in the European Court of Human Rights.
Despite his efforts, including changing lawyers twice, he was unable to secure his stay in Bulgaria.
Resolving Handziuk’s Murder
SBU chief Ivan Bakanov believes that Levin’s return marks a quick resolution for Handziuk’s murder, committed in 2018.
“As I promise, we’re confidently moving towards putting the final dot on the Kateryna Handziuk case. This is a fundamental matter for us. And this extradition of the suspect will speed up the final investigations into her murder. We have to make this case an example – everyone who commits a crime will face justice,” said Bakanov.
But Levin has refused to give in, saying that he has "a lot" to say in court. But case investigators say that Levin is the key figure in Handziuk’s murder, and that he may be able to give investigators the leads needed to pin the ultimate orderer of the murder – Vladyslav Manger.