Ukrainian anti-corruption activist dies following acid attack

Kateryna Handzyuk, a Ukrainian anti-corruption activist, died on November 4 from the injuries she received when in a sulphuric acid attack at the end of July. The attack, which took place outside her home in the city of Kherson, in southern Ukraine, left Ms Handzyuk with burns covering 40 per cent of her body.

Ms Handzyuk, who was also a member of Kherson city council, had undergone 11 operations at a hospital in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

The country’s president Petro Poroshenko has called for the killers to be punished. Five suspects are already in custody.

In September, the activist – who also campaigned against Russian-backed separatism – posted a video in which she urged Ukrainians to fight rampant corruption.

“I know I look bad now. But at least I’m being treated,” she said. “And I definitely know that I look much better than justice in Ukraine. Because nobody is treating it.”

The exact cause of Ms Handzyuk’s death was not immediately known, but reports in local media suggested it was a blood clot.

The death of the 33-year-old Ms Handzyuk prompted protests across the country, with activists taking to the streets to demand justice and urging the authorities to investigate attacks on other activists. A candle-lit vigil was held in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyiv. The activists carried placards reading “She was murdered” and “Who ordered the murder of Katerina Handzyuk?”

The European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, condemned the crime.

“Very saddened by the news of the passing of the incredibly brave Kateryna Handzyuk. Attacks against civil society activists are unacceptable. The perpetrators of this vicious crime must be brought to justice. My thoughts are with her family and friends,” said the commissioner.

Photo: Olya Komarova