Ukrainian police chief hires hitman for Austria

A former Ukrainian police chief goes on trial on Wednesday in Vienna for attempted murder, after he allegedly ordered a Georgian assassin to kill his former business partner in Austria.

Ukrainian police chief hires hitman for Austria
The intended victim was to be shot in the head. Photo: Augustas Didžgalvis

The 37-year-old Ukranian businessman, who was associated with the secret Security Service of Ukraine as well as working as a chief of police, allegedly hired the hit man to carry out an execution with a shot to the head of his former Austrian associate.

According to media reports from Austrian state broadcaster ORF, in 2003 a Viennese import-export entrepreneur had conducted shady business transactions with an ethnic Russian partner, which should have earned him commissions of up to €230,000.  

Because the Ukranian business man didn't want to pay the money, his Austrian ex-partner threatened to inform the Ukrainian police about large-scale tax frauds of which he was aware, that would implicate the former police chief.

To prevent this outcome, the accused is alleged to have visited the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in 2004, where he hired a hit man.  He passed on a photograph of the Viennese man, as well as his address, and asked the assassin to kill the target with a head shot.

Instead of carrying out the hit, the alleged killer instead went to the police.  The former Ukrainian cop was then arrested based on an international arrest warrant issued by Austrian justice officials, and brought to Vienna for trial.

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EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department