Share |

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tributes Paid at Kushnaryov’s Funeral; Questions Remain

As thousands of mourners file past Kushnryov’s casket in Kharkiv, netizens flock to discuss theories of his death.

What fuels the discussion are rampant discrepancies in the accounts of events regarding:

species hunted — wolf, boar?
victim’s location — inside vehicle, out on hunting range?
weapon used — Russian-made Saiga, Italian-made Benelli Argo?
number of charges — single, multiple?

The nature of the injuries, a function of the above variables, merits a separate discussion. It is known beyond doubt that the victim suffered acute trauma to his liver, one of his kidneys, and a portion of his intestinal tract.

The prime suspect is one Dmytro Zavalny, Vice President of Kharkiv-based AT Tochprylad. A few hours after the shooting, came up with a mainstream version of what had happened. This BYuT-friendly news portal traced the fatality to Zavalny’s “tunnel vision” as he closed his left eye and took aim at the animal. Bang! Zavalny shoots Kushnaryov, his hunting companion — the guy in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

What’s wrong with this story? On the one hand, it defies the laws of ballistics for a single bullet to result in such damage — unless the bullet was a hollow point one, or one fired from elsewhere. On the other hand, it defies common sense for someone of his superb shooting credentials to fire at a human being accidentally — let alone to fire more than one charge.

All of which raises grave suspicions about the official line of investigation, reckless homicide. If convicted on these charges, the defendant faces up to 5 years in prison. By now, many people in this country either believe that Zavalny executed someone else’s master plan or that he is not the one who pulled the trigger.

Granted, Kushnaryov was no Irwin, much less Kennedy, but he was certainly the PRU’s top ideologue, a hawk whose love for Russia surpassed Yanukovych’s earthly and mercantile flirtations. More than that, he was independent-minded, perhaps so independent minded as to have a contract taken out on him. Kharkiv, his native city and the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic until 1934, holds a claim to fame far more impressive than Donetsk does. With the Kushnaryov faction taking reigns, Kharkiv could not only become a hotbed of federalist fever but also a graveyard of Donetsk’s ambitions.

Given the strange circumstances of his death, Kushnaryov, who had served as Kuchma’s chief of staff from 1996 to 1998, does not seem to be alone in his fate. He will be joining Messrs. Kirpa and Kravchenko, Kuchma’s other cowboys, whose suicides in early 2005 looked very much like the work of a hit squad in a cleanup operation meant to destroy evidence of the departing regime’s crimes.

Aside from Y2K (Yanukovych, Kuchma, Kravchuk) and prominent figures from different political walks of life, mourners included Russian MP Konstantin Zatulin, something of part-time persona non grata in Ukraine. Zatulin called Kushnaryov’s death “an irreparable loss” for Ukraine.

Who benefits? Experts agree that Russia has indeed lost an influential and genuinely reliable partner. They also hint that the power vacuum Kushnaryov has left behind will be most likely filled by the ever-more elbow-pushing Donetsk clan.

No comments: