Police in Kharkiv said that on May 20 they arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder of at least two non-Slavic foreign students. A May 21 Kharkiv police website report on the incident said the attacks had put Kharkiv’s sizable foreign student population on high alert.
Authorities said that the suspect, who worked as a security guard in the city, used the same modus operandi when he attacked two Nigerian students earlier in May: he used a knife under the cover of night in isolated areas of the city.
The suspect immediately confessed to the attacks and had a knife in his possession, Kharkiv prosecutors announced on their website on May 21.
In a May 17 report a Kharkiv Objective TV reporter Viktoria Lukashova stated that both Nigerian students were hospitalized in stable yet critical condition.
The TV report said that one victim had lost three liters of blood because the knife had punctured an artery in his neck. Both were operated on, said Serhiy Shevtsov, head of the Kharkiv Oblast prosecutor’s office.
Police in Kharkiv said one motive in the attacks was racial hatred. Nothing was stolen from the victims, said police.
Lukashova of Objective TV told the Kyiv Post that an Arab student and his Ukrainian female companion were also attacked by a knife wielding attacker a week prior to the attacks on the Nigerians. It’s not clear whether this attack is related to the attack on the Nigerian students.
Authorities said a special police task force was formed to find the knife-wielding attacker. The task force was made up of experienced police officers that gave daily progress reports to Kharkiv Oblast police chief Viktor Kozytsky.
Kharkiv prosecutor Shevtsov said police apprehended the suspect on May 20 at a Kharkiv subway station after he matched the description provided by witnesses.
Verkhovna Rada lawmaker Oleksandr Feldman said on May 16 that he would award the law enforcement officers who apprehend the suspected attacker through the website of the Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia.
Kharkiv police said there were more than 13,000 foreign students studying in Kharkiv Oblast as of March 2011. The eduation ministry said there were more than 55,000 foreign students in Ukraine as of March 2012.
Kyiv Post staff writer Mark Rachkevych can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.