Ukrainian activist dies 14 weeks after acid attack

By Ed Adamczyk

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A Ukrainian anti-corruption activist who was targeted by an acid attack during the summer has died from her injuries, officials said Monday.

Kateryna Handziuk underwent 11 surgeries after she was sprayed with sulfuric acid that covered a third of her body outside her home in Kherson. She died Sunday in a Kiev hospital.


Handziuk was an adviser to Kherson's mayor and a critic of local police corruption. The attack was initially listed as a case of hooliganism, but changed to "attempted murder committed with extreme cruelty" after a public outcry.

It was reclassified again Sunday as premeditated murder. Five suspects are in custody.

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From her hospital bed, Handziuk, 34, called on the Ukrainian government recently to investigate the rising number of attacks on activists.

The embassies of France, Canada and the United States to Ukraine sent condolences with a demand that the attackers be prosecuted.

"The death of Kateryna Handziuk is a memento for everyone in the law enforcement system: those guilty of her barbaric murder should be punished," Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk wrote.

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Human rights groups have recorded at least 55 unsolved attacks on political activists in Ukraine since the start of 2017. They include assaults against politician Sergy Gusovsky, who was doused with a liquid and beaten at the Kiev City Council on Oct. 4, and anti-corruption advocate Oleg Mikhaylik, who was shot in Odessa in September. Activists say police rarely investigate such attacks.


"The situation is getting worse and has been for about a year now," Marya Guryeva of Amnesty International told Al Jazeera. "Many attacks have been identity-focused, committed by far-right groups against LGBT and Roma people. But now we see they are happening against anti-corruption activists, too."

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