“This Is Pure Murder, Not Self-Defense”: Criminal Proceedings Were Initiated Against the Ukrainian Nationalist Sergey Sternenko

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


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On the night of May 24th in Odessa on 72 Fontanskaya Street, the former head of the Odessa branch of “Right Sector”, the radical nationalist Sergey Sternenko killed one person and wounded their friend.

The former “Right Sector” member stated that he was assaulted for “political” reasons. At the same time this narrative wasn’t confirmed by neither the testimonies of witnesses nor the preliminary conclusions of field investigators.

Sternenko’s version of events: “I was attacked”

The fight featuring the use of a knife happened when Sergey Sternenko was coming back home with a girl. According to the nationalist, he was allegedly unexpectedly attacked by two guys. In self-defense he used a knife and fatally wounded one of them, the second managed to flee.

After the fight Sternenko was forced to ask for medical assistance – his left hand had been cut. Criminal proceedings were initiated after the incident. It is interesting that Sternenko claims that this is already the third attack he’s been subjected to in recent months [it should be noted that Sternenko likes to claim that he was attacked in order to inflate his own importance – ed].

The first attack remained “out of the view” of law enforcement bodies – he was punched in the face by someone when he left his car. The second attack happened at the beginning of May, 2018 – the nationalist received a wound to his neck from an air pistol.

Source in the police: “Sternenko caught up with the guy and stabbed him twice”

At the same time the sources of “Strana” in the police draw a slightly different picture of events.

“At the moment we can say the following: Sergey Sternenko came back home with a girl. He had a verbal conflict with two unknown guys a block before. This didn’t result in a fight. In front of the house the guys caught up with him and tried to sort things out again. The guys weren’t armed. Sternenko pulled out a knife and hit the first one twice, then the other guy. After that the guys started running away – both were seriously wounded. One inhabitant of Odessa – 1988 year of birth – succeeded to escape, despite having received two received wounds to the stomach. The second guy, who also received two knife blows – to his hand and chest, wasn’t able to escape – Sternenko ran towards him to catch him up and, having caught him up, stabbed him two more times. This time in the stomach. The guy died from four wounds. Preliminary information says that this is pure murder, and not self-defense – the guys weren’t armed. The deceased – named Ivan – served in the 25th airborne brigade in the past. The one who managed to run away already said that they and his killed friend didn’t know Sternenko earlier. I.e., there is no ideological or political background to this crime,” explained the source of “Strana” in the Odessa police.

Also according to him, the wound sustained by the “activist” on his left hand looked like a cut – it happened at close rang. However, the attackers had no weapons – the investigators try to understand how Sternenko received a wound on his left hand. Field investigators don’t exclude that Sternenko wounded himself.

So far criminal proceedings were initiated according to Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

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The deceased and his friend were qualified as victims. “Strana” learned their names: the paratrooper Ivan Kuznetsov, who was killed by Sternenko, was 25 years old and a resident of Chernomorsk. He is survived by two children.

The mother of Ivan Kuznetsov learned that her son had been killed from the correspondent of “Strana”. The police didn’t report it to her. 64-year-old Liliya Aleksandrovna didn’t know about the fight between her son and the nationalist Sergey Sternenko that took place on the night of May 24th.

According to her, Ivan served as a conscript in the Dnepropetrovsk region (Novomoskovsk). He wasn’t involved in the “ATO”.  He worked in Odessa as a security guard.

Aleksandr Isaykl, who managed to escape from the place of the tragedy, was born in 1988.

Call sign “Beriya” – who is Sergey Sternenko?

Sergey Sternenko is 23 years old. He was born in the village of Sadovoye in the Odessa region.

He is the leader of the civil organisation “Neravnodushnye”. In 2014-2017 he was the head of the regional branch of “Right Sector”. In 2014-15 he actively “lustrated” officials – in trash cans. He assaulted the politician Nestor Shufrich together with his friends.

In “Right Sector” he had the call sign “Beriya”. He actively promotes himself on the Internet, in 2016 he graduated from the Odessa College of Economics, specialising in law and hotel-restaurant business. He works as a legal adviser (according to some information, it is fictitious work).

He continues his training at the Odessa university.

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Criminal proceedings were initiated against Sternenko in 2015 – for kidnapping. He left on bail for 60,000 hryvnia.

His main activity in Odessa in recent last times – disrupting the concerts of objectionable or “disloyal” artists. In particular, he disrupted Konstantin Raikin’s concert in Odessa in 2017.

In 2017 a second criminal proceeding was opened concerning Sternenko – on suspicion of organising mass riots. This concerns a skirmish with police at the Letny theater in the center of Odessa. At the time some of the police officers were wounded.

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