House of Ukranian Anti-Corruption Activist Burned Down

Unknown perpetrators have burned down the house of an Ukrainian anti-corruption activist in Kyiv in what he believes was an unsuccessful assasination attempt.

Vitaliy Shabunin fireThe house is no longer livable. (Photo: Vitaliy Shabunin's facebook page). Vitaliy Shabunin, the head of the Anti-corruption Action Center (AntAC), a Ukrainian non-profit funded by the U.S. and European countries that promotes anti-corruption legislation and enforcement, posted photos of his burned down house on social media on Thursday. 

Shabunin said he and his family were not home but his parents were. They managed to get out in time after a neighbor who had heard a blast and seen flames warned them. 

The Anti-corruption Action Center stated that they did not recognize the police's initial qualification of the fire as “a threat or encroachment on damage of the property,” but that it was “a clear assasination attempt on Vitaliy Shabunin and his family.” 

Shabunin’s Lawyer Olena Shcherban said that according to witnesses, the source of the fire was an object that fell under the door of the house and quickly created a fireball. 

According to the Anti-Corruption Action Center, Vitaliy Shabunin and other representatives of the non-profit have been victims of systematic harassment in recent years, including physical assault, fabricated criminal cases and defamation campaigns.

In 2016, the Attorney General’s Office raided the offices of the center, alleging embezzlement of funds allocated by the U.S. government and European partners for the reform of their agency. Later that year, photos of Shabunin’s unfinished house were published on the Internet along with some of the Anti-Corruption Action Center financial data. 

In 2018, a group of young people in camouflage threw a cake and “zelenska,” a lasting green dye, at Shabunin near the building of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in Kyiv. 

Shabunin reportedly accused the government of Volodymyr Zelensky of failing to protect activists. Zelensky was elected last year after an anti-corruption campaign. 

The Anti-corruption Action Center has asked for an independent investigation into the arson that would “identify not only the direct perpetrators of this attack but also those who ordered it.” 

President Zelenskiy issued a statement on his Telegram channel, saying that "the culprits must be found and punished," adding that such attacks "cast a shadow on the reputation of our state, on our institutions of power, and especially on our law enforcement agencies."