Eduard Hurvits   14-Mar-1998   The assassination of Boris Derevyanko
Who and how? The contract killing of the editor of the Evening Odesa

Mykhailo Aksaniuk
writing for the Kyiv newspaper "Day"


14 March 1998

Ten volumes of materials relating to the investigation of the killing of Boris Derevyanko are being submitted to the Odesa Oblast court.

In the words of those who investigated the case and prepared the indictment concerning the murder of Boris Derevyanko and the attempt to kill Y. V. Tsvyetkov, it is possible that the individuals who will be criminally charged for these acts are A. Klyuk, A. Petryman, A. Bokovan, I. Pyabushenko, and others (here and below, all surnames have been changed; perhaps soon the Odesa Oblast court will release the real names).

Those who gave the orders are still being sought.


The full story of the murder of Boris Derevyanko will be presented to the court.  Nevertheless, from the available evidence it is possible to trace out an approximate outline of the crime.

In May 1997, Oleksandr Kliuk met with Oleksy Manashov.  They knew each other from student days; they had trained together: one in the Sambo [a Soviet martial art] section, the other in free fighting.

Manashov became interested in the question of whether there were in Prydnistrovsk, where Kliuk then lived, boys who were capable of doing whatever work might be necessary, even to the point of murder.  It was not long before he telephoned Oleksandr and invited him to come to Odesa.  After that, evidently, three meetings took place.  One of these was at the sporting-athletic association, Olympia.  At one of these meetings, Kliuk determined that, in theory, one could make money (they did not name the "target," but the sum of 20-30 thousand dollars was specified).

During the final meeting with his contact Halyna Timak, Oleksandr Kliuk instinctively felt that delay in the "liquidation" of the "person in the publishing house" [presumably meaning the editor, Boris Derevyanko] was becoming dangerous for himself.  Far too well he already knew about the training toward "removal of the objective"; that for even a moment to give occasion to intermediaries or to principals to be disappointed was the same as arousing their suspicion that the execution of the order was being evaded.

On the morning of 11 August [1997] he drove out from the town of Dnistrovske in his Ford Scorpio, so that he could be in town at 6:30 am, on the Odesa street Haidar.  His contact, Halyna, as they had agreed, approached his car just before seven.  She handed him a pistol in a yellow-green plastic bag.  Opening it, the killer verified that it was a pistol with a silencer.  The ammunition clip was full.

There remained only to verify whether the "man from the publishing house" would follow exactly the expected route.  At last, the contact quietly said, "Look, it's him!"  She pointed at the side of the light-colored Volga, which stopped near the intersection of Filatov and Haidar streets.  From the car unhurriedly stepped a graying man of average height and full build.

Kliuk followed along the path that Derevyanko had been expected to follow.  When the killer was within three meters of the editor of the "Evening Odesa," he began to shoot, not taking his hand with the pistol out of the plastic bag.  Few could have heard the four muffled shots which sounded at the beginning of nine o'clock on noisy Filatov Street.

Kliuk's car stood 150 meters from the location of the murder.  He learned that it was Boris Derevyanko that he had killed probably only next day.  A week later, he received the first 10 thousand dollars.  Then they informed him that someone else was supposed to have killed Derevyanko.

The Contact was Failed by his Group

It was only on the 19th day of unceasing, round-the-clock investigation that the Odesa police came up with a suspect in the murder of Boris Derevyanko.  The investigation was conducted in cooperation with the DAI [Dorizhnaya Avto Inspectsiya, or highway patrol] and detachments of "Berkut" [special police forces] within the Odesa and neighboring oblasts.  Groups of investigators were sent to Moldova, and worked together with MUR [Moscow criminal police] all without result!  The most experienced criminal investigators, and also specialists from the SBU [Slyzhba Bezpeky Ukrainy, Ukrainian successor to the KGB], didn't know what to make of the case: on the one hand, they were evidently dealing with professionals who had planned the killing methodically.  On the other hand, however, they had followed up every conceivable lead only to conclude that local criminal groups had not been involved!

But suddenly, during an automobile patrol, "Berkut" came across a suspicious car in Odesa on Tourist Street a BMW-518 with a Prydnistrovsk licence.

A check of the car produced shocking results.  the Tiraspol [a city in Prydnisrov] driver, 26-year-old Ihor Riabushenko and his 26-year-old passenger Andry Bokovan (a former convict, nicknamed "Safon") had in their possession a pistol with a silencer, as well as a hunting knife.  These two Prydnistrovsk residents were immediately taken to the Malynivsky division of the Odesa police station.  During their long interrogation, the experienced investigator Volodymyr Artmin was able to find out not only the names of the visiting killers, but also those who ordered the contract killing that they were attempting to carry out.  It turned out that the shots to the already-tracked victim 40-year-old Odesa resident Yury Snitkov, a senior journalist with NDI television were to have echoed seven hours prior to the arrest of the killers, but the victim turned out to be a particularly difficult target because his girl friend was always with him.

Late that evening, 30 August [1997], investigator Volodymyr Artmin could take satisfaction with the results of his investigation.  But this criminal investigator with many years of experience could not shake off an intuitive sense that "These two probably knew more than they were saying."  And he was right in his very office was first heard the name of the sought-for Oleksandr Kliuk.  And soon, his Prydnistrovsk address was also given.

During the search of Kliuk's apartment in Dnistrovsk, $11,000 was discovered.  Probably (as will be clarified by the court), this was not only the remains of his payment for serving as a go-between in the killing of Derevyanko [this statement is unclear, as Kliuk is portrayed above as the Derevyanko killer, not a mere go-between], but also a prepayment for another contract killing that of Snitkov.  According to preliminary evidence, the order to kill Snitkov came from Ivan Malchenko, a former fellow-student of Kliuk's.  This order was possibly in revenge on the part of an acquaintance of Malcheno, Vasyl Tokuiev, for the murder of Tokuiev's son while Snitkov and the son were in the military together [translator's note not absolutely clear from the original who was in the military with who].

Who Was Behind the Hireling?

"But he would have been able with one blow of the fist smash the skull!  Upon meeting his victim, he would not have had to use any of his four pistols."  These or similar feelings were shared by those who happened to find themselves near #51 Filatov Street in September of last year where prosecutors were performing an investigative experiment with the participation of the suspected killer of Derevyanko.  From his stocky, sullen appearance, deformed possibly by a bullet-proof vest, and from the heavy yet springy walk of a Sambo practitioner he inspired a chilling horror.

But nevertheless, the hireling was also frightened, preparing as he had been to cut short the life of the "person from the publishing house": "I did not look around to ask: Is anyone behind me?  I knew that I would not see my contacts, even though they were there, needing to control the situation."  Who is he referring to?  Who planned and directed the killing of Derevyanko?  If Kliuk was a "backup," then who played the lead?  One of the participants in the unsuccessful attempt on the life of Snitkov once heard from Kliuk that the contact Halyna must have arranged it all.  Perhaps.  But who is she?  It turns out that she is a distant relative of the contact Manashov.

Justice Favors Olympia

Manashov himself, as the investigation confirms, is very closely connected with the athletic club Olympia.

For the first time, his name, and also the names of other influential founders and trainers, particularly Abu Archakov, Oleh Radchenko, Yevhen Kosolapov, came forward during the investigation of Odesa's first attempted murder of the Evening Odesa journalist Serhy Lebediev (by the way, Day twice published on this subject in 1996 "Investigators Have not Clarified the Motives of the Killer" and "The suspect in the contract killing of a journalist has been released from custody").  The result is known to our readers the criminal investigator V. Kopytin who was working on the case, handed in his resignation to protest the reduction of the charges against Yevhen Kosolapov (from "attempted murder" to "conspiracy to commit bodily harm").  And the above-named participant in this attempt was released from custody even before his trial.

During the course of the investigation it was discovered that the arrested Olympia trainer, Yevhen Kosolapov, who confessed to participating in crime, remained in contact by means of a cellular telephone with Abu Archakov, co-founder of the Olympia.  And Oleh Radchenko the driver of the company car of the president of the Olympia was arrested for the unlawful possession at his dacha, in the Kyiv region of Odessa, an arsenal of weapons: two automatic Kalashnikov rifles, two thousand rounds of ammunition for them, four grenade launchers, eight TNT charges, and also night-vision binoculars.  In any case, the investigation of this matter was separated, and as a result Radchenko too the second Olympia member was released from custody by a decision of the court.

Olympia co-founder Abu Archakov was also successful in avoiding a long prison term.  His interests were defended in the Kharkiv court by the lawyer of the Odesa City Administration, Serhy Vashchenko.  After a verdict of not guilty, Abu Archakov and his family immediately vanished from the city and from the country.

Why Did They Cut Short a Life?>

We must repeat that the final answer to this question will be given by the court.  But we are able to venture a guess as to the political foundation of the killing.  None of those who seriously prepared to fight for seats in Parliament or for the leading elected offices in Odesa or in the region could have avoided noticing the influence on the local situation of Boris Derevyanko and the group at Evening Odesa that was led by him.

The professional standing of the former national deputy of the CPCP Boris Derevyanko in Odesa continues to be high.  Is it not this influence of the editor of the Evening Odesa (and in recent years, member of the municipal council, and whose restiveness almost led to his being robbed of his seat) which evoked an irresistible longing to remove him from the local political arena?