News, 27/02/2019

Kharkiv Tragedy Verdict: 10 Years in Prison

On February 26, the Kyivskiy district court of Kharkiv sentenced both Olena Zaitseva and Hennady Dronov to 10 years in prison in relation to the fatal accident on Sumska Street on October 18, 2019. The court also deprived them of driving licenses for three years and ordered the defendants to pay moral compensation to all victims.

The verdict comes 496 days after the day of the accident. During this period, 50 sessions have taken place, 33 witnesses interviewed, and the collected paperwork of the criminal proceedings comprises nine volumes.

According to the sentence, the court deemed the testing of Zaitseva for opiates inadmissible. Judge Victor Popras took into account mitigating circumstances which were considered; including Zaitseva’s sincere repentance and partial reparation to the victims. At the same time, the court did not find any mitigating circumstances for Dronov.

During the final court session, Zaitseva felt unwell and had to be excused from the court. She did not return to the hall until the announcement of the court’s decision.

After the court’s ruling was announced, Dronov noted that he did not consider the verdict fair, claiming that the severity of his sentence was a signal “to make society calm down.” He also declared that he was going to appeal the decision.

According to Zaitseva’s lawyer, Yulia Kozyr, her defendant has not yet decided if she will appeal.

After the announcement, social network users were quick to express their opinion. In the comments to a post made by the victims’ attorney Dmytro Martson, most users agreed with the fairness of Zaitseva’s punishment while Dronov’s sentencing raised issues.

The majority of Ukrainians opined that the court incorrectly assessed the role of each defendant in the case. “A drunk racer and a man who started driving 3 seconds earlier. Is it really the same thing?” wrote user Alina Shevchuk. Dasha Vidyashkina similarly observed that “Dronov was sentenced for nothing. Because of the silly youngster who was on drugs.”

However, some users expressed opposing views. “They are both guilty. He started driving on prohibited traffic light signal,” stated user Andrey Chebotaryov.

The sentence has not come into force yet: defendants have the right to appeal in the 30 days following the issuance of the verdicts.

Reference: The accident on Sumska Street occurred on October 18, 2017. Olena Zaitseva ran through a red traffic light, which caused her Lexus to collide with a Volkswagen Touareg driven by Hennady Dronov. Six people were killed as a result of the incident.

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Editing: Peter Cribley,

Photo: Newsroom