WASHINGTON—Following the recent news of the death of Ukrainian anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) issued the following statement:
I am disturbed by the death of 33-year-old Ukrainian anti-corruption campaigner Kateryna Handzyuk, who succumbed to injuries received in an acid attack. This young woman worked tirelessly to curb the corruption plaguing her country with the hope that Ukraine would one day realize the rule of law. Her torturous death reminds us that many Ukrainian officials have not yet lived up to the hopes of their citizens.
Ukraine’s vibrant civil society remains its best hope for real reform, and it deserves the greatest possible protection. I hope Ms. Handzyuk’s killers will be quickly brought to justice.”
Attacks on civil society activists in Ukraine have escalated in 2018, accompanied by a disturbing lack of investigations. In October, Transparency International issued a press release calling on Ukrainian authorities to bring those behind the attacks to justice as quickly as possible. This was preceded by a September 26, 2018, open statement from a broad coalition of Ukrainian civil society representatives, recounting recent attacks and demanding investigations.
These attacks follow a broader crackdown on civil society in Ukraine. Last April, Ukraine implemented an invasive NGO law, requiring civil society activists to declare assets down to the individual level. The United States and the European Union criticized this action.