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Anti-corruption activists house torched
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, July 23 - A prominent Ukrainian anti-corruption campaigner said Thursday his house had been set on fire and condemned authorities for failing to protect activists, AFP reported.

Vitaly Shabunin, the head of the non-profit Anti-Corruption Action Centre, posted pictures on Facebook of his one-story house with damaged interiors and a collapsed roof.

The Anti-Corruption Action Centre said it believed the arson was "an assassination attempt" targeting Shabunin and his family.

Speaking to reporters in front of his house in the village of Gnidyn outside Kiev, Shabunin accused President Volodymyr Zelensky of failing to protect activists.

"He hasn't done anything about it so far," he said. "People are being maimed and killed. And no one is held responsible for this."

Former actor and comedian Zelensky came to power last year pledging sweeping political change and to root out corruption.

Nobody was hurt in the blaze that tore through Shabunin's house early Thursday, he said, adding that he, his wife and their children were not at home.

His parents managed to escape after a neighbour heard an explosion.

Shabunin said he did not know who had set the house on fire.

But Shabunin said he and his centre had a lot of powerful enemies, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Igor Kolomoisky, a controversial tycoon with ties to Zelensky.

Police have opened a criminal probe.

Matti Maasikas, the EU ambassador to Ukraine, said he was "very disturbed" and called on Kiev to investigate.

"Civil activists must feel safe to carry on their mission," he tweeted.

In November 2018, Ukrainian anti-corruption campaigner Kateryna Gandzyuk died following numerous surgeries after attackers poured about a litre of acid on her.

Gandzyuk's death turned the spotlight on dozens of assaults on anti-corruption campaigners in Ukraine.

Both the European Union and the United States have called the attacks on activists unacceptable and urged authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. (afp/ez)




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