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House of former newspaper editor and Facebook group admin set on fire in Rivne oblast

22.06.2023, 11:36
Photo: Oleksandr Namozov on Facebook
Photo: Oleksandr Namozov on Facebook

In Kostopil (Rivne oblast), the former district newspaper editor, writer and founder of the Facebook community "Our Kostopil", Oleksandr Namozov, says that his house had been set on fire and that he views this as an attempt on his life, Suspilne reports.

A fire broke out on his property on the night of June 16; he wrote about it on Facebook and suggested that the authorities might be behind it. According to the Kostopil City Council, such allegations "sound like libel."

"For three years, I have been constantly criticizing them (local authorities. – Ed.) for mismanagement, for embezzling the community's money. I criticize them in my group "Our Kostopil". Posted two such materials yesterday. Apparently, the guys lost their nerve and decided to be done with me. I criticize the government more often than I praise it. They know that I can not be intimidated," Oleksandr Namozov told Suspilne.

Photo – National Police

According to him, before going through with the planned arson, the criminals neutralized two dogs – a Labrador and a shepherd.

"They used electronic devices to neutralize the dogs. The dogs are alive, but were paralyzed for some time. The house was set on fire in four spots. Doused with a mixture of gasoline and fuel. I was at home and awake. I lay there and felt like I wasn't getting enough air. I stepped outside, and my house was already on fire. I managed to jump out of there five minutes after the fire began, saved by fate. The police and emergency services worked well. They told me: 'If you had been asleep, you would've suffocated on carbon monoxide in 5-10 minutes,'" Namozov said.

Oleksandr Namozov used to be a local journalist and the editor of a district newspaper, now he is in retirement. He says that he arson was triggered by his posts about the government in a local Facebook community.

The oblast police noted that around 1 a.m., a group of investigators and cynologists arrived at the crime scene. The police established that unknown persons had set fire to the front door of the house of the Kostopil resident, aged 63.

The police questioned the neighbors and the victim. The latter pointed to the people he suspects of being the perpetrators and said that he believes the incident has to do with his work.

"At the time the crime was committed, the victim was in his country house. When he heard the acrid smell of smoke, he went outside and saw that the front door was on fire. The man extinguished the fire on his own and called the emergency services. The fire damaged the wooden door and the walls were partially covered in soot. No one was injured by the fire," said oblast police press officer Yulia Dudnik.

The police examined the crime scene and collected clues: shoe prints, traces of fuel and lubricants which the intruders used to douse the house, and other evidence.

The investigators have started a pre-trial investigation under Part 2 of Article 347-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: intentional damage to property belonging to a journalist by way of arson, explosion or other generally dangerous means. Such actions are punishable by imprisonment for six to fifteen years.

Suspilne has asked the spokeswoman of the Kostopil City Council, Anastasia Kovalenko, for a comment and received the official response citing the city's acting mayor, Davyd Didukh:

"There are law enforcement authorities that should investigate the incident and give their assessment. Allegations of any kind, against any person, including state officials, sound like libel, which this citizen has repeatedly practiced in his posts before."

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