Thursday, April 24, 2014


Transmission

Why Do So Many Officials Die On Ukraine's Roads?

Ukraine's political and other elites very often treat the country's roads as their own private racetrack. (file photo)
Ukraine's political and other elites very often treat the country's roads as their own private racetrack. (file photo)
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When Roman Shubin, the deputy prosecutor of Vinnytska Oblast, died on September 23 in a car crash, some people immediately suspected foul play.

After all, as chief prosecutor for Ukraine's high-profile crimes unit, Shubin worked on some pretty touchy cases -- including the 2004 dioxin poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko, who was in the midst of a hard-fought presidential election campaign against current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and the gruesome killing of investigative journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000.

The trails of suspicion in both cases led high up into the ruling elite.

Roman Shubin was killed in a car crash on September 23.Roman Shubin was killed in a car crash on September 23.
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Roman Shubin was killed in a car crash on September 23.
Roman Shubin was killed in a car crash on September 23.
And suspicious "accidents" seem to happen fairly often in Ukraine.

In 1999, opposition presidential candidate Viacheslav Chornovil -- running against President Leonid Kuchma -- died in a car crash that the Interior Ministry determined was "accidental." A new investigation was opened in 2011.

In 2002, Yulia Tymoshenko -- then one of the leaders of the opposition to Kuchma -- was involved in a mysterious car accident in Kyiv that some observers have speculated may have been an assassination attempt.

In 2004, Yuriy Chechyk, director of Radio Yuta in Poltava, was killed in a suspicious car crash while on his way to a meeting with representatives of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

In Shubin's case, there have been reports that he had been threatened in the past and that he had asked to be transferred to another position. Reporting the death, Kyiv's "Segodnya" newspaper quoted an unnamed former investigator as saying he "doubts" the car crash was accidental.

"[Shubin] had enemies," the source said.

Details of Shubin's crash are sketchy, but apparently he rammed into the back of a KamAZ truck, either at "high speed" or at "very high speed," according to different reports. Some media reported that he might have had a heart attack or other medical problem prior to the collision, although there has been no evidence of that.

All of which appears to point to another, more prosaic, explanation of the tragedy. As is the case across the former Soviet Union and in many other parts of the world, Ukraine's political and other elites very often treat the country's roads as their own private racetrack.

Vladislav Lukyanov: "I experimented to see what speed my car could achieve."Vladislav Lukyanov: "I experimented to see what speed my car could achieve."
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Vladislav Lukyanov: "I experimented to see what speed my car could achieve."
Vladislav Lukyanov: "I experimented to see what speed my car could achieve."
Party of Regions lawmaker Vladislav Lukyanov bragged on Facebook in July that he drove from Kyiv to Odesa in 2 hours and 40 minutes, which would give him an average speed of 200 kilometers an hour.

Asked about it by journalists, Lukyanov was unapologetic: "When we went to Odesa and I was at the wheel, we selected a stretch of road where there were no obstacles or other cars and I experimented to see what speed my car could achieve. We did not create any obstacles or danger for other road users because there were none."

Apparently, Lukyanov got around every corner without encountering a fully loaded KamAZ truck.

He added that he learned that his Audi is capable of speeds of more than 300 kilometers per hour.

On the evening of September 23 in Kyiv, two people died -- including the director of the financial policy office of the Economic Development Ministry -- in a crash during what police suspect was an illegal street race on a highway in the capital.

Serhiy Chekashkin was driving a Dodge Viper SRT10 when he died while racing someone in a Ferrari. The $160,000 American-made Viper can go from 0 to 160 kph in 8.6 seconds.

According to media reports, Chekashkin also owned a Ford Mustang GT, another Mustang, a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 Hennesy, and a Nissan GT-R.

For visitors to Ukraine, the British government offers this advice on its website:

"Local driving standards are poor: street lights are weak, speed limits, traffic lights and road signs are often ignored, and drivers rarely indicate before maneuvering."

-- Robert Coalson
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
September 26, 2012 04:46
My guess would be that so many Ukrainian officials die on the roads because the Taliban constantly put road-side bombs to kill them - the same they do with US servicemen and servicewomen stationed in Afghanistan :-)).
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 27, 2012 07:31
Come now, Eugenio, do you really hate that mach Ukrainity,
As any other "non-Russuity" - ironizing at their tragedy?
Your oboroten's in Afghan as plossible deny-ability?
Ukraine needs highway police speed-limitability.

Another reason - Rashka acts as ocupying lace
In most of former USSR, Eastern Europe space,
Assassinates, covers-up and abstracting justice.
The third reason, information is not a wise mustif,
Reporters or detectives think they movie-like aces.

In real West reporter or investigator only gets once
An information safely from a source and gives it up,
To big Publisher and Police, without snoping dance.
Specially if a personal threat to one in power or "gov"
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
September 27, 2012 15:53
Ah, Konstantin, after I have stolen your artistic ideas and killed John F. Kennedy (but remember, you promised me not to tell anyone about it :-), ironizing a little about such tragedies as US soldiers killed by road-side bombs in Afghanistan is nothing :-)).

by: Bohdan Fedusiw from: USA
September 26, 2012 05:11
Accidents... really...

by: Mamuka
September 26, 2012 10:41
There are thousands of non-official drivers who die in car wrecks in Ukraine. I think that advice from the British sums up the situation pretty well.

However, the Lamborghini or Maserati zooming down Kreshchatik at 150km/h in the middle of the day is no ordinary citizen.

by: Alex from: LA
September 26, 2012 21:42
House cleaning in Ukraine's politics.

by: Garry from: Ukraine
September 27, 2012 04:03
Goverrment officials have nothing to fear from the police so they drive any way they want,

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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