The State Bureau of Investigation (DBR) reported it had begun an investigation into army officer from the Department of Assistants to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, who presented grenades as a birthday present to his colleague, Gennady Chastyakov.
The DBR press release on Thursday, did not disclose the officer's name but unverified media reports suggested that it was the senior assistant of the AFU Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Colonel Oleg Tymchenko, citing law enforcement sources.
Kyiv Post sought clarification from the DBR regarding whether this officer was Tymchenko, to which the bureau responded that they did not possess such information.
“The officer acquired 8 manual universal offensive and defensive grenades model DM 51A2 without appropriate authorization and brought them to his office," the State Bureau stated in its release.
The DM51 hand grenade, developed by the Diehl company in the 1970s, consolidates various German military fragmentation grenades into a single type. Operating conventionally, the user removes the safety ring, throws the grenade, releasing the arming lever which triggers detonation.
Reportedly, Germany supplied Ukraine with approximately 100,000 of these grenades, which are currently used widely within the German armed forces.
Kyiv Post asked for clarification from the DBR of the phrase used in its release that the grenades were “acquired without appropriate permission.” This somewhat vague wording can mean that the grenades were purchased illegally, received as a gift, or obtained from another source. The bureau replied that the one of the purposes of their investigation was to clarify this matter.
The DBR release indicated that the suspect arranged six such grenades in a gift wooden box, along with a bottle of strong alcohol.
“He presented this box to military serviceman Gennady Chastyakov on the occasion of his birthday. With these actions, the officer actually committed the sale of explosive devices,” the DBR response emphasized.
The DBR also confirmed that the officer retained two additional grenades in a cupboard in his office, which were subsequently seized by law enforcement officers.
The officer was notified of suspicions related to acquiring, storing, transporting, and selling explosive devices without the requisite legal permission (Part 1 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The article carries a penalty of up to 7 years' imprisonment.
In response to Kyiv Post's query whether or not the suspect was being held in custody, the State Bureau replied they were preparing the relevant conditions in conjunction with the Prosecutor General's Office but did not specify what preventive measures they would request.
According to "Suspilne" publication, which cited its sources, a court hearing took place in the Pechersky Court of Kyiv to determine a preventive measure for the suspect. However, no decision was reached. Journalists were prohibited from recording the court session.
"Suspilne" sources indicated that the prosecutor's office advocated for the officer's placement under house arrest. Nevertheless, the judge did not approve the request.
The suspect himself refrained from commenting on the origin of the grenades. His lawyer emphasized that the officer would remain silent during the ongoing investigation.
On Monday, Chastyakov, a close adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military died after one of the grenades gifted to him on his birthday exploded.
The following day, the Prosecutor General's Office tasked DBR to conduct an investigation as a potentially criminal case.
The Bureau is in the process of establishing all facts related to the tragic event and has not excluded any possibilities, including that it was:
- an accident resulting from mishandling of ammunition;
- an attempted assassination orchestrated by Russian special services;
- a targeted killing based on personal animosity between parties;
- a failed attempted assassination against another officer of the Commander-in-Chief’s staff by Russian special services.
DBR investigators consider the most likely cause of Chastyakov's death to be the result of mishandling the grenade.
According to a Kyiv Post source in the SBU, three individuals witnessed Tymchenko handing the gift box to Chastyakov, with the words: “It’s hard to surprise you – that’s why I’m giving you grenades and a bottle of good whiskey.”
The source claims, “Clearly, Chastyakov took it as a joke. Later, he collected his children from school and they began to examine the gifts together. [It seems] he assumed that the box did not contain combat grenades, but rather glasses of a specific design."
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