Vitaly Kadnichansky, a 28-year-old Ukrainian national, has been sentenced to life in prison for racist and homophobic attacks against six people and the killing of one young man.
Kadnichansky was arrested in May of 2012 after assaulting two Nigerian students. The other charges were later added. He reportedly confessed to the attacks, only to deny his involvement later.
The case became notorious after Oleh Lyashko, head of Ukraine’s ‘Radical Party,’ attempted to get Kadnichansky pardoned as a political prisoner in 2015. This motion was rejected.
On 5 February, a panel of judges at the Dzherzhynsky District Court in Kharkiv, under presiding judge Yekateryna Arkatova, sentenced him to life imprisonment on the charges of murder, attempted murder, and possession of explosives.
Kadnichansky was also ordered to pay six thousand Ukrainian Hryvnia [$221.88; €181.194; £160.435] to each of his victims, as well as 18 thousand [$665.640; €543.582; £481.30] for costs linked to the investigation.
‘He is supposed to have come to Kharkiv from his village in the Kharkiv oblast and selected his victims, choosing people not only on the basis of race, but so that they were physically weaker than him,’ The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group reports. ‘He attacked all of them, by knifing them in the back, and inflicting up to 18 stabs). One of his victims was a minor who managed to flee after receiving 5 stab wounds. Vyacheslav Likhachev, who was monitoring all such attacks at the time, understands that the young lad, a schoolboy, was of “non-Slavonic” appearance.’
‘Kadnichansky was found guilty of grave crimes, but the motives were never in dispute. It has often been difficult to get prosecutions initiated on the grounds of xenophobia, and little experience at all of charges of homophobic crimes. The reasons include the difficulty of proving the intent required by Article 161 of the Criminal Code and a wish to not “spoil” the statistics with such cases. One very negative consequence is that many foreign nationals targeted in racist attacks have either been fearful of reporting them to the police, or have simply seen no point.‘