Statement of the NGO “Agency for Legislative Initiatives” on the attack on Kateryna Handzyuk

Today Kateryna Handzyuk, Manager of Affairs at the Executive Committee of the Kherson City Council, was assaulted. In severe condition, she was hospitalized and now stays in intensive care unit.

Kateryna Handzyuk has been working in local self-government since November 2016. She advocates the disclosure of all data held by the City Council and establishing communication between officials, the media and the community. Kateryna is a well- known as a Kherson activist who fights corruption in the ranks of police. In the autumn of 2017, she brought evidence of corruption of Artem Antoshchuk, Head of the Department of Economy Protection of the National Police in the Kherson Region.

The Agency for Legislative Initiatives has been working with Kateryna Handzyuk since 2015, when she joined the Ukrainian School of Political Studies’ Community. In 2017, Kateryna became an expert of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives after conducting the research and preparing an analytical paper “The Policy Proposals to Regulate the Status of the Local Council Members” on its basis.

The Agency for Legislative Initiatives’ team condemns the attack on Kateryna Handzyuk. We consider it unacceptable that in the 21st century in a democratic state, the struggle of citizens against corruption in state bodies is accompanied by intimidation of activists and brutal physical harassment, which usually remain unpunished.

It is necessary to draw attention to the fact that the recent attacks on journalist Sergiy Nikitenko in Kherson and activist Vitaly Ustymenko in Odesa remain unpunished. Our Community has not forgotten about the attack on Dmytro Bulakh (2014 USPS alumnus), a well-known Kharkiv anti-corruption activist. The lack of adequate investigation and punishment of the executors and organizers of these attacks is unacceptable. The brutal impunity of crimes generates an escalation of violence in society.

We appeal to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, and the General Prosecutor of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko with the requirement of an immediate and objective investigation of the attack on Kateryna Handzyuk. The performers, possible organizers and customers of the assassination attempt should be brought to criminal justice. We also ask for assistance from our international donors and partners. Ukraine should be an example of adherence to the rule of law: only then we can talk about any reforms, when human life and health are supreme values and are protected by the state.