A court in Bulgaria on January 27 sent Ukrainian national Oleksiy Moskalenko (Levin) to jail for 40 days based on a red Interpol notice issued by Ukraine on suspicion of co-organizing an attack on a Ukrainian activist that led to her death.
Bulgarian prosecutors the same day said they personally received the requisite documents for extradition from Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Trepak.
Moskalenko, 42, was detained in the Black Sea coastal city of Burgas on January 24 without resisting and was identified by his fingerprints, Bulgarian police said at a briefing. He was wearing a disguise that differed from the picture listed on the Interpol notice.
Bulgarian police said the suspect crossed by foot into Bulgaria from Romania in 2018 and was living in an apartment rented by a woman from Ukraine.
On July 31 of that year an assailant poured acid on Ukrainian activist Kateryna Handzyuk in Kherson, a city 560 kilometers south of Kyiv.
Thirty percent of her body was burned and three months later she died of her wounds after numerous operations in Kyiv.
An official in the city council and an adviser to Kherson’s mayor, Handzyuk often spoke out against public corruption in the city.
Investigators say she was killed for accusing local politicians of stealing from the local budget and of illegal logging in the region.
Five men were convicted on August 5 for carrying out the attack and given prison sentences ranging between 6 1/2 and 3 years.
Moskalenko is charged with “intended grievous bodily injury, which caused [the] death of the victim,” according to the Interpol notice.
Ukrainian prosecutors suspect Kherson regional council head Vladyslav Manher of ordering the attack on Handzyuk.
Manher has denied wrongdoing and has stated that he didn’t personally know the victim and wasn’t involved in illegal tree felling in the region.
He has been free on bail since February.
The persecution of human rights and civic activists in Ukraine has become a growing concern.
Last year, there were 83 documented cases of persecution, with violence being employed in the vast majority of incidents, including one murder, according to a study jointly conducted by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and groups ZMINA and Truth Hounds.