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Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kozhara Detained On Murder Charge

Leonid Kozhara attends a session of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Kyiv as Ukraine's foreign minister in 2013.

Ukrainian police have detained a former foreign minister on a murder charge related to the fatal shooting of the ex-head of the country's most popular pro-Russian television network.

Leonid Kozhara, 57, who served as foreign minister for two years under Kremlin-friendly former President Viktor Yanukovych, was on March 25 immediately taken to court for a custody hearing, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Herashchenko said on Facebook.

He is accused of killing Serhiy Starytskiy, a 56-year-old advertising magnate who directed the Inter TV network.

Starytsky was found dead inside Kozhara's suburban Kyiv home on February 22.

He was fatally wounded by a bullet from a gun belonging to the former minister, police said.

Kozhara and his wife, who were both at home during the incident, have said Starytskiy committed suicide in a separate room.

However, "investigators and prosecutors reviewed the circumstances of the death...and have concluded that he [Starytskiy] could not have shot himself," Herashchenko said.

Separately, the National Police said that based on forensic, ballistics, and molecular genetic tests, they had enough evidence to charge Kozhara.

During the evening of the shooting, according to police, alcohol was being consumed and an argument erupted between the two men, which escalated into a fight.

"Subsequently, the owner of the house went to the bedroom, picked up a gun and, returning to the kitchen, shot his friend," police said.

Kozhara, who served as foreign minister between 2012 and 2014, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

With reporting by Interfax, Hromadske, and AFP
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