Ukrainian lawyer defending Russian serviceman found slain

Relations between Ukraine and Russia grew even darker Friday when a Ukrainian lawyer was killed "in a violent way, and finished off with a fiream." He had been defending a Russian citizen captured in eastern Ukraine.

Suspect directs police to Yuri Grabovsky's body buried in forest

Yuri Grabovsky speaks on Nov. 3, 2015 during a hearing at court in Kyiv. The lawyer for two Russian servicemen on trial in Ukraine has been found dead. (Associated Press)

A Ukrainian lawyer, defending a Russian intelligence officer captured in eastern Ukraine, was found dead in a forest near Kyiv Friday.

Yuri Grabovsky's body was discovered with a gunshot wound, buried in a forest 125 kilometres from Kyiv. A suspect in the killing directed police to the grisly find.

"Provisionally, I can say that … (Grabovsky) was killed in a violent way and finished off with a firearm," said Anatoly Matios, Ukraine's chief military prosecutor.

Provisionally, I can say that... (Grabovsky) was killed in a violent way and finished off with a firearm- Anatoly Matios, Ukraine's chief military prosecutor 

Grabovsky disappeared March 6 while returning to Kyiv after a business appointment in Odessa, in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine's National Association of lawyers said in a statement "we have all lost a talented, energetic, rational and dedicated attorney."

Grabovsky was involved in the last stages of a trial for a Russian citizen, Alexander Alexandrov. He and Yevgeny Yerofeyev were captured in May 2015, by Ukrainian soldiers; they are charged with illegal possession of weapons and involvement in a terrorist organization.
A man, who according to Ukraine's state security service is named Alexander Alexandrov and is one of two Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian forces, looks on from a defendants' cage as he attends a court hearing in Kyiv on Sept. 29, 2015. The two Russian servicemen have been charged with terrorism. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

Russia has long argued there are no active Russian servicemen inside eastern Ukraine. Even though Alexandrov and Yerofeyev admitted they were Russian soldiers, the Kremlin argues they were on leave from their jobs in Russia's military intelligence service.

Their trial was adjourned in early March when Grabovsky didn't show up for court.

The two Russians on trial are part of a potential prisoner exchange for Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian Air Force pilot, sentenced this week to 22 years in a Russian penal colony. Her lawyers have been pushing for a prisoner exchange.
Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukranian pilot who has been sentenced to 22 years in a penal colony. Her lawyers are hoping to negotiate a prisoner exchange for two Russians held in Ukraine. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this week he was ready to exchange the two Russians for Savchenko.

The idea was part of discussions yesterday between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has said only Putin will decide whether an exchange will take place.

Savchenko's lead lawyer Mark Feygin tweeted today, "Should I consider lawyer Grabovsky's murder as a warning to me?"

About the Author

Susan Ormiston

Senior correspondent

Susan Ormiston's career spans more than 25 years reporting from hot spots such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Haiti, Lebanon and South Africa.


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