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Ukraine ex-minister arrested for murder

March 25, 2020

After an Ukrainian advertising magnate was found dead in the home of former Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, police detained the politician on murder charges. Kozhara and his wife claim the businessman committed suicide.

Leonid Kozhara
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kharchenko

Ukrainian security forces arrested Leonid Kozhara, who served as foreign minister in the pro-Russian government led by exiled president Viktor Yanukovych, on suspicion of pre-meditated murder on Wednesday.

Kozhara is suspected of killing advertising mogul Sergiy Starytsky. The body of the 56-year-old pro-Russian businessman was discovered in Kozhara's home outside Kyiv last moth. Investigators determined he was shot in the head from Kozhara's pistol, said deputy interior minister Anton Gerashchenko.

The former minister and his wife "continue to claim Sergiy Starytsky ended his life by committing suicide," Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. The couple admits to being at home at the moment of Starytsky's death, but say that the enterpreneur went to a different room and used the gun on himself.

However, the authorities have "reached the conclusion that (Starytsky) could not have shot himself," Gerashchenko said.

Altercation turned deadly?

Ukrainian investigators now believe that the two men were consuming alcohol in the Kozharas' kitchen when they got into an argument, which turned into a physical altercation.

"The owner of the house went to the bedroom, took a gun, returned to the kitchen and shot at his friend," the police statement said.

The 57-year-old Kozhara led the country's Foreign Ministry from 2012 to 2014, when Yanukovych was ousted by the Maidan protest movement. If convicted, the former diplomat faces up to 15 years in jail.

dj/ng (AFP, Interfax)

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