American farmer Kurt Groszhans accused of plotting kidnap and assassination of Ukrainian authorities minister

American Kurt Groszhans is seen in an undated profile photograph from his Fb web page. 

Fb/Kurt Groszhans

After nearly two months behind bars in Ukraine, a North Dakota farmer stood earlier than a panel of three judges final week who dominated that he ought to stay in detention earlier than a trial begins wherein he must defend himself in opposition to allegations that he tried to rearrange the assassination of the nation’s agriculture minister, one among his attorneys informed Newsplaneta Information.  

Kurt Groszhans, from Ashley, North Dakota, is going through a number of costs, together with tried homicide, tried extortion and tried kidnapping. He denies all the costs in opposition to him, based on lawyer Pavel Ustimenko. The fees had been filed by the Nationwide Police of Ukraine. If convicted, Groszhans may very well be sentenced to life in jail, although Ustimenko stated a sentence between 12 and 15 years was extra doubtless. 

An advanced case 

Groszhans moved to Ukraine in 2017, reportedly to discover his household heritage and, as he wrote in an August 30, 2021 weblog submit, to spend money on Ukraine’s agro-industrial sector. He wrote that he employed a person named Roman Leshchenko to handle his farming enterprise within the nation, however that from day 4, Leshchenko “started to withdraw my working capital … and use my seeds on his lands.”

Groszhans additionally claimed that Leshchenko later made a big contribution to the political celebration led by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who went on to change into Ukraine’s president. In 2020, Zelenzkyy appointed Leshchenko to be the nation’s Minister of Agrarian Coverage and Meals.

Briefing on assassination attempts of Ukrainian agrarian minister
Minister of Agrarian Coverage and Meals of Ukraine, Roman Leshchenko, attends a briefing on the arrest of a gaggle of individuals accused of plotting his assassination, in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 18, 2021.

Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Barcroft Media/Getty

Calling himself “a deceived American investor,” Groszhans wrote bluntly: “Roman Nikolaevich Leshchenko deceived me. And I’ve been suing him for a number of years.” 

The American claimed that judges delayed his lawsuits, explaining that he “ought to perceive who you might be suing.” 

Leshchenko’s lawyer, Tetyana Kozachenko, informed Newsplaneta Information that the funds lent to him by Groszhans had been “returned in full,” and that the dispute was associated to “enterprise transactions.”

Groszhans’ lawyer, nonetheless, stated his shopper wished greater than the return of $250,000 in money that was taken — he was additionally looking for to cowl the prices of “soy beans, corn, use of equipment” and authorized charges totaling round $1 million.

Groszhans was arrested on November 18, 2021, his lawyer informed Newsplaneta Information. Ustimenko stated the police claimed to have recordings of Groszhans’ then-assistant, a Ukrainian girl named Olena Bogach, assembly with “different individuals” who seemed to be police informants, discussing “tips on how to get cash from Mr. Leshchenko and together with that, different very unusual issues, discussing kidnapping… tips on how to do one thing with him.”
In accordance with Ustimenko, nonetheless,  Groszhans was not often current throughout these conversations and even when he was, he may hardly converse Russian or Ukrainian, so with out receiving the alleged audio information, Groszhans and his authorized staff could not “know what precisely was translated to him,” or what prosecutors claimed he had stated in these conferences.

Ustimenko stated Groszhans was drawn into the conversations with Bogach and different Ukrainians by guarantees of assist to “discover first rate land for farming” within the nation.  

In accordance with Ustimenko, Groszhans stated that whereas he was visiting the restaurant the place the ultimate assembly came about on November 17, “he was poisoned with psychotropic substances” and could not perceive the place he was or what was occurring. He did not even keep in mind leaving the restaurant, his lawyer stated.

Groszhans’ authorized staff stated investigators had denied their request to check his blood samples. 

“I consider that is all a set-up,” Ustimenko stated. “Not solely does Kurt deny the costs, however there is no such thing as a proof of any crime within the materials that police gave us.”
He famous that Bogach, Groszhans’ former assistant, can also be now in detention, accused of attempting to rent a hitman to kill Leshchenko.

Newsplaneta Information sought remark from Bogach’s lawyer for this story, however there was no response after one week.

“What occurred is a surprising scenario for me. However I need to say this:  If somebody thinks that the threats, assassination, blackmail or bodily removing of the Minister of Agrarian Coverage will permit him to keep away from obligation, then I can guarantee you that it isn’t the case,” Leshchenko informed Newsplaneta Information companion community BBC Information.

Groszhans’ circumstances in jail are “comparatively okay,” and he has been visited no less than 3 times by employees from the U.S. Embassy, Ustimenko stated. On January 5, a Ukrainian district court docket denied a movement to switch Groszhans to accommodate arrest, his lawyer stated.
In a press release to Newsplaneta Information, a State Division official confirmed that the U.S. was “conscious of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine,” and stated it might “press for truthful therapy and due course of.”  

Groszhans’ sisters, Kristi Magnusson and Kimberly Groszhans, declined to remark for this text, however they’ve reportedly stated they do not consider the costs in opposition to him. The household launched a crowdfunding webpage in November to boost cash for his authorized protection.

The court docket dominated final Thursday that Groszhans should stay in jail till the subsequent scheduled listening to on February 13. Ustimenko stated he hoped to obtain a transcript from investigators earlier than that listening to of Groszhan’s remarks throughout the restaurant assembly with undercover police.

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