Grenade in Birthday Gift Kills an Aide to Ukraine’s Military Chief, Also Injuring His Teen Son

The interior minister of Ukraine asserts that Hennadii Chastiakov's death was an accident, not a targeted attack

<p>Valentyna Polishchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty </p> People walk along an alley of Ukrainian soldiers

Valentyna Polishchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty

People walk along an alley of Ukrainian soldiers' graves in Kyiv

Maj. Hennadii Chastiakov, an aide to the leader of Ukraine’s armed forces, was killed on Monday by a grenade seemingly gifted to him for his birthday, the Associated Press reports. The explosion also injured his teenage son.

Some immediately questioned whether the fatal incident was the result of a deadly attack, as Chastiakov's boss, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, has at times appeared at odds with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy while the two lead their nation's defense against Russia.

But soon after Chastiakov's death, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko suggested there was no foul play, saying on Telegram that the explosion is being viewed as an accident, per the AP.

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One of Chastiakov’s colleagues presented him with six new grenades on his 39th birthday, according to AP. While he was showing the explosives to his family at home in the village of Chaiky — located in the Kyiv region in north-central Ukraine — his son twisted one of their rings.

“The serviceman then took the grenade from the child and pulled the ring, leading to a tragic explosion,” Klymenko wrote, per AP.

The explosion killed Chastiakov, who was both an assistant and close friend to Gen. Zaluzhnyi. The National Police of Ukraine said Chastiakov's 13-year-old son was seriously injured, The Washington Post reports.

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Zaluzhnyi also shared the news on Telegram, writing that the late officer was “a reliable shoulder for me,” per the Post.

“The reasons and circumstances [surrounding his tragic death] will be established during the pre-trial investigation,” the military leader wrote.

Klymenko said that police recovered the other five grenades in Chastiakov’s home, and were able to identify the colleague who gifted him the explosives, per the Post. A search of that colleague’s office uncovered two similar grenades, he wrote, noting that “urgent investigative actions are ongoing.”

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In a Facebook post, Ukrainian lawmaker Mariana Bezuhla called for a "detailed investigation," per the Post.

“I would never have thought that Hennadii would die as a result of carelessness on his birthday,” she wrote, adding: “Grenades are issued, not given. Not kept at home.”

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According to the AP, Chastiakov’s sudden death was the second fatal tragedy in Ukraine’s military in less than a week.

On Friday, a ceremony honoring troops in Zaporizhzhia — a city in southeastern Ukraine — was struck by a Russian missile, killing 19 soldiers in one of the deadliest single attacks reported by Ukraine's armed forces, according to AP.

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