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You're reading: Police implicate, link Klitschko brothers, other opposition members to Chornovol beating suspects (UPDATE)

The interior ministry’s chief investigator on Dec. 27 linked opposition lawmaker Vitali Klitschko, his younger brother, heavyweight champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko, as well as several other members of parliament and local lawmakers to the suspects who beat Tetyana Chornovol. 

Police currently have five suspects in custody, three of
whom are believed to have been directly involved in the Dec. 25 beating of

Mykola Chynchyn, the head of the interior ministry’s
investigation department, said that
the Klitschko brothers
were closely associated with the same organized crime
syndicate of which one of the suspects, Oleksandr Kotenko, had allegedly been a

In a Dec. 27 statement, he said that Kotenko was a member of
the Borys Savlokhov gang, which was part of the Viktor Rybalko organized crime
group. The Klitschko brothers allegedly were closely involved in Rybalko’s
organization, according to Chynchyn. Rybalko was killed in 2005.

Through his UDAR party website, Vitali Klitschko vehemently
denied the link and said he will sue Chynchyn for slander, libel and defamation
of character. He furthermore called the accusations deceitful and baseless.

“Instead of conducting an objective investigation and
finding the real perpetrators of the crime, (including) those who gave the
orders to beat Tetyana Chornovol, the office of (Interior Minister Vitaliy)
Zakharchenko has resorted to the usual provocations and actually is covering up
for the criminals,” stated Vitali Klitschko. “Thus, we will speak in court with
those who were entrusted to voice lies and nonsense.”

The nation’s chief investigator also said that opposition
lawmaker Mykola Kniazhytsky and David Zhvania, a member of parliament who quit
the ruling Party of Regions after the 
Nov. 30 police beatings of protesters, were connected to suspect Serhiy
Kotenko, the 29-year-old younger brother of Oleksandr Kotenko.

Serhiy Kotenko was as of July the director of and 40
percent owner of a company that is the license holder of TVi
, a television
outlet that until April was known for its investigations
of high-level corruptio
n. In April a new group of owners took over the
muckraking television channel, which for three months underwent a swirl of
ownership changes.

Six months ago Serhiy Kotenko purchased the sports utility vehicle
that was used to block the path of Chornovol’s car several times early on Dec.
25 from another suspect in custody, Oleksandr Khramtsov, according to police.
Khramtsov told the police that he is still the registered owner because Serhiy
Kotenko hasn’t paid him in full for the vehicle.

Kniazhytsky, a former general director of TVi before winning
a parliamentary seat in October 2012, told the Kyiv Post that “our paths never
crossed at TVi,” when asked to comment about Serhiy Kotenko. “I said the same
thing to the police on Dec. 26, therefore I’m surprised the police said this in
a statement today.”

Zhvania told the Kyiv Post in a telephone conversation that he doesn’t know who Serhiy Kotenko is, and has no affiliation with the owners of TVi.

Chynchyn also accused opposition lawmaker Volodymyr
Polochaninov of the Batkivshchyna party for having ties to Khramtsov and Andriy
Nasikovsky, the latter of whom is also a suspect in custody.

Polochaninov admitted to the Kyiv Post in a Facebook message
that both are his acquaintances through their common interest in soccer.

“That’s all. I don’t have any other connections,” said
Polochaninov. “They like sports, so do I. You don’t ask everybody in a gym for
their curriculum vitae (resumes) and their life stories.”

Also accused of having “close ties” to the suspects were
UDAR party members Yevhen Oharkov, Dmytro Kreinyn and Ihor Opadchiy, the latter
two of whom are Kyiv Oblast council lawmakers.

When reached for comment by phone an UDAR press officer
wouldn’t comment on the three party members. E-mailed questions to UDAR’s press
office went unanswered. 

[Editor’s note: This article was updated to include David Zhvania’s comments who earlier didn’t answer his phone or to text messages that the Kyiv Post had sent.]

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