On June 11, the SBU handed the suspicion to Sergei Sternenko, a right-wing radical who killed a man in Odessa two years ago.
The plot of this murder was repeatedly painted by Strana. It can be found in our material «Still a free radical».
The Sternenko case became a test for the country’s transformation for the authorities. Will Zelensky dare to end the lawlessness of the radicals begun under Poroshenko?
However, progress on this apparent murder began only a year after Ze became president. Although the whole fact was already known at the time of his election.
That is, for some reason, Zelensky allowed Sternenko to walk free — and only now they remembered the evidence of his guilt, about which Strana and lawyers have been talking for the third year.
And it is not yet known whether this case will end with a real sentence and prison.
«Strana» answered five main questions about Sternenko’s «suspicion».
What is Sergei Sternenko suspected of?
The radical is charged with two articles of the criminal code — premeditated murder (115th, part 1) and illegal carrying of knives (263rd, part 2).
The maximum sanction here is 15 years in prison.
The SBU argued why the murder was deliberate, and not caused by the needs of self-defense (as Sternenko himself claims):
1. Sternenko ran after Ivan Kuznetsov, who later died, a hundred meters — that is, he was catching up. Which does not fall under self-defense.
2. Having caught up, stabbed him with his own knife right in the heart. That is, the blow was delivered deliberately and with accurate calculation.
3. If Sternenko wounded Kuznetsov in the heart at the beginning of the fight (according to the radical), then Ivan would not have been able to run a distance of one hundred meters.
4. Sternenko inflicted a wound on himself. That is, he began to wield a knife, and not those with whom he fought.
All these arguments have been published by Strana for two years now. Now they have been officially confirmed by the SBU. A detailed description of the crime as interpreted by the department can be found in the material «I ran after the wounded Kuznetsov for almost 100 meters.» The SBU described how Sternenko killed a man in Odessa.
Why did the SBU present the suspicion, but not the police?
It would seem that the jurisdiction of the 115th article — murder — belongs to the police. And the cops tried last year to write out Sternenko’s suspicion.
However, Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka did not sign the draft suspicion. By sending this case to the SBU.
The authorities did exactly the same somersault under President Poroshenko. Thus, the radical was removed from responsibility.
Both under Lutsenko and under Ryaboshapka the basis was the same: they say they attacked Sternenko. At the same time, there were attacks on other «activists» behind whom some united force could stand. Which is what the SBU investigated. Which eventually announced suspicion to Sternenko.
It is true,that it was not immediately.
Why was «suspicion» handed over two years after the murder?
Poroshenko’s power, which protected the nationalists, frankly took Sternenko out of the blow. After the transfer of his case to the SBU, Gritsak’s department did not investigate anything, and the radical who stabbed the man was at large for a year in the status of an ordinary witness.
After Poroshenko left the presidency, the case was returned to the police through the courts through the efforts of lawyer Andrey Portnov. Who, after a few months, prepared a draft suspicion, which was rejected, as already mentioned, by Ryaboshapka, who again referred the case to the SBU.
But Ryaboshapka was removed from office in the spring. And the new Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova promised that Sternenko would get suspicion in any case.
However, it was clear that on Bankova Street they were afraid to touch the nationalist — this could cause protests from other radicals and already caused the displeasure of the US Embassy.
Therefore, talks began about new examinations, and in May the suspicion was suddenly announced … to the person killed by Sternenko. That is, to Ivan Kuznetsov, who, according to the SBU, attacked Sergei. And the nationalist himself was recognized as a victim.
It was clear that the authorities were preparing the ground in order to soften the final suspicion of Sternenko himself. Which is exactly what happened. Something important has disappeared from the text of today’s «fagot» if you compare it with the version prepared by the police last year.
If, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Sternenko was the first to attack Isaikul and Kuznetsov who were passing by, then the SBU says that a radical became the victim of an attack by hooligans. And, only having gone into a rage during the fight, he deliberately stabbed one of the attackers.
In court, such an interpretation may well pass for a mitigating circumstance. But then why was it necessary to write out a suspicion of a serious crime with one hand and lay the prerequisites for a milder sentence with the other?
The suspicion could have been written out in order to create in Zelensky’s electorate the appearance of a fight against radicals. The presidential party’s rating is declining, and local elections are just around the corner. Until the case comes to court, they may already take place. Therefore, there is no certainty that Sternenko’s suspicion will turn into a guilty verdict and a real term for him.
Will Sternenko be able to avoid responsibility?
Apparently, the authorities do not have a real desire to «close» Sternenko — otherwise they would have done it back in the fall, when the suspicion from the Ministry of Internal Affairs was ready.
We see that the new suspicion is a light version of the previous one — with the possibility of a milder sentence. Considering that the SBU itself paints Sternenko the image of the victim who was attacked.
However, the case still needs to be brought to court. Having gone through the protests of nationalists and the pressure of the embassies. And depending on their intensity, as well as political expediency — even then decide what to do with Sternenko. To ruin the case in court, to give the radical a short term or to put it to the fullest.
So far, a course towards liberal treatment of the «activist» is visible. He was handed a petition for house arrest. Although under such grave articles as that of Sternenko, ordinary Ukrainians are in jail.
Lawyer Andrei Portnov, who at one time revived the investigation into Sternenko, believes that suspicion from the SBU removes the radical from responsibility. And I intend to appeal against him.
“We believe that the murder was committed with particular severity and a number of other signs. Our legal efforts will be aimed at changes that provide for punishment in the form of life imprisonment, and not up to fifteen years, as the investigation suggests, ”Portnov wrote in his Telegram.
Is this already the going to prison of radicals or not yet?
It is still difficult to say whether the efforts on Sternenko will go beyond Zelensky’s election campaign.
On the one hand, yesterday Petro Poroshenko received suspicion, supported by some of the radicals. True, his article has nothing to do with them. The ex-president is being prosecuted in the «Semochko case», which so far looks like a way to merge the rest — much more serious — proceedings against Poroshenko.
But the tendency to distribute «suspicions» to those whom many have long been demanding to be imprisoned is evident. What is most likely connected with the upcoming elections.
On the other hand, no one systematically persecutes radicals. They still feel at ease on the street and even beat people who were hired by Zelensky — we are talking about the attack in the center of Kiev on Sergei Sivokho.
At the same time, it is obvious that the nationalists are interfering with Ze himself. They constantly come under the windows of his Office and shout about zrada, threaten with a new Maidan. Petro Poroshenko is also actively working with them.
Therefore, it is possible that Sternenko’s «case» will be a test case — and depending on how zealously they will defend him in the West and inside the country, the authorities will build their further strategy.
Victoria Wenk, «Strana»