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Clinic guard arrested over locked bomb shelter that led to civilian deaths in Kyiv

by Daria Shulzhenko June 4, 2023 5:46 PM 4 min read
Vadym Moshkin, 62, a night guard at a Kyiv clinic, attends his arrest hearing at the Kyiv Holosiivskyi District Court on June 3. Moshkin faces up to 8 years in prison for failing to open the clinic's bomb shelter in time during an overnight Russian attack on June 1. Three people, including a child, were killed as they were trying to get inside the shelter. (Oleksii Arunian / Graty)
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On June 3, the Kyiv Holosiivskyi District Court arrested a 62-year-old night guard of a local clinic, Vadym Moshkin, for failing to open the clinic's bomb shelter in time during a Russian missile attack, leading to deaths of three people.

Overnight on June 1, a 33-year-old woman as well as a 34-year-old woman with her 9-year-old daughter were killed in Kyiv's Desnianskyi district, where Russian missile debris fell on a clinic and a residential building.

The husband of the 33-year-old victim told news outlet Suspilne that when the debris hit, his wife was trying to get into the clinic's shelter, which turned out to be closed.

The incident sparked public outrage, prompting the authorities to start criminal proceedings.

A lot of the outrage was directed at Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who initially reacted by saying that Kyiv bomb shelters are the responsibility of the heads of districts, appointed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In an unexpected turn that left many commentators dissatisfied, the June 3 arrest hearing appeared to put the majority of responsibility for the tragedy on the clinic's elderly night guard.

Initially, a total of four people, including one district official and three employees of the clinic, have been detained under the investigation.

However, Moshkin was the only one arrested for two months without bail. Three other suspects were placed under house arrest.

In court, Moshkin said he opened the door to the bomb shelter and heard people knocking on the door of the clinic where the shelter is located, Ukrainian media outlet Graty reported from the court hearing.

"People started knocking on the (entrance) door (of the clinic). I got to the register and was knocked down (by the explosion), and then the glass flew from above. It was terrible there," Moshkin said in court, as quoted by Graty.

According to the media outlet, he said he did not have enough time to open the door to the clinic. Still, he said he considers himself guilty.

However, the husband of the 33-year-old killed woman told Suspilne that people knocked to enter the bomb shelter "for a very long time." Witnesses told Suspilne that approximately 10 minutes had passed between the first air raid signal and the debris falling on the clinic.

"There was an air raid (alarm), and people ran to the shelter. The shelter was simply locked… People knocked, knocked for a very long time… There were women, children, and no one opened it... At that moment, it (debris) hit," he said.

According to Graty, the prosecutor's office suspects Moshkin of "leaving people in danger, which led to death." He faces up to eight years in prison, the media reports.

According to the media, the head of the clinic Oleh Shuhalevych, his deputy Vasyl Desyk, as well as the first deputy head of the Desnyansky District, Iryna Alieksieienko, are suspected of official negligence following the incident and were placed under house arrest.

The court's ruling also sparked anger from Ukrainian officials and the public.

Ukrainian lawmaker Roman Hryshchuk wrote that Moshkin was "the only one arrested and the only one who pleaded guilty."

"Unlike the head of the district, the city mayor, and other officials. The investigation will determine the degree of his guilt and responsibility for it," Hryshchuk wrote. "But is it fair for the guard to sit (in jail) while the officials shift the blame to each other?"

What's with the closed bomb shelters?

The incident attracted the public's attention to other bomb shelters across the capital that are in poor condition or inaccessible.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's Strategic Industries Minister Oleksandr Kamyshin reported that 44% of Kyiv bomb shelters are "closed or not prepared to be used."

On Telegram, Kamyshin wrote that in one day, a "commission on the audit of Kyiv bomb shelters" checked 1,078 of Kyiv's bomb shelters, establishing that 55% of them were opened and in a suitable condition to be used. Kyiv officially has 4,000 facilities that qualify as bomb shelters.

Kamyshin said he did not trust the conclusion that even half of the bomb shelters were opened and ready.

"Yesterday, when we selectively checked the shelters in the Obolon District with our mayor, the absolute majority of the shelters were closed. And when we did open them, they turned out to be unusable," Kamyshin wrote on Telegram.

"That team explained the high percentage of open and prepared (shelters) by the fact that most of the tested shelters on the first day were in schools, kindergartens, and hospitals. And the situation there is a little better than in general in the city," he added.

Also, on June 3, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said that law enforcement checked over 4,800 bomb shelters across Ukraine, and about 20% proved to be unsuitable for use.

Of the over 4,800 bomb shelters, 252 were closed, and 893 were "unsuitable for use," according to Klymenko.

Following complaints by the citizens, Kyiv Mayor Klitschko went to examine the shelters in the capital and promised to hold their management responsible.

According to the mayor, the city allocated Hr 100 million several months ago for the renovation and maintenance of Kyiv's 4,000 shelters.

Both the Interior Ministry and the mayor have already promised regular police checks of the city's shelters to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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