Birthday Present Filled With Grenades Kills High-Ranking Ukrainian Military Commander

The Washington Post has reported that a high-ranking Ukrainian military commander named Major Hennadii Chastiakov, who was the assistant of Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, died after a birthday present filled with grenades exploded.

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A highly odd narrative of the “accidental” death of a senior Ukrainian military leader is making headlines throughout the world.

Monday marked the death of a senior aide to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, following the detonation of what was first described as a “unknown explosive device” inside a birthday gift that was given to him.

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Illustrative image: example of a realistic looking heavy metal replica grenade, source: KIRO 7 News

Major Hennadii Chastiakov is the man who has been identified, and it has subsequently come to light that he received a gift box containing explosives. Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, made one of the oddest announcements out of Kiev during a wartime on Telegram.

The Washington Post provided the following translation of the post:

Gen. Valery Zaluzhny said that his assistant, Maj. Hennadii Chastiakov, was killed under “tragic circumstances” while celebrating his birthday with relatives when “an unknown explosive device went off in one of the gifts.” His 13-year-old son was also seriously injured, the National Police of Ukraine said. 

On social media and Ukrainian news websites, the image below is now trending. The Post in Washington said:

In one photo, what appear to be several grenades or grenade-shaped items are scattered across the floor. On social media, some jumped to the conclusion that Chastiakov’s death had been an assassination rather than a mistake.

“I pray to God that this was a tragic coincidence and not a targeted attack,” wrote Dana Yarova, member of the Defense Ministry’s anti-corruption council.

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Regional stories have provided more purported information, however considering the peculiar circumstances surrounding the top officer’s death, many things are still unclear and even contradictory:

Chastiakov’s wife said the item that exploded was a grenade inside a gift bag, Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement source. The gift bag also contained a bottle of alcohol and shot glasses that looked like grenades, per the report.

According to the same source, a lower-ranking soldier gave Maj. Chastiakov the risky gift:

Klymenko said in a Telegram message that an exchange between Chastiakov and his son led to the accidental detonation of one of the grenades. Police later found five more unexploded grenades at his residence and identified a Ukrainian soldier who gave them to Chastiakov. The soldier’s office has been searched, and more grenades were found there, Klymenko said.

Regarding the story described above, it’s difficult to see how a “shot glass” that looks like a grenade may cause confusion with actual “grenades” that are also included in the gift. And why would someone then pull a pin? Maybe he mistaken them for realistic-looking “toy grenades” or some kind of practical joke gift.

During his Monday speech to the Canadian House of Commons, Trudeau accused India of assassinating a Sikh leader in Canada.

The question of why someone would wrap explosives in a present in the first place is also obviously a very important one (unless the intention is to blow up the recipient).

One early interpretation held that it was a deliberate assassination of a significant military decision-maker rather than an accident at all. Ukrainian intelligence has carried out several assassinations inside Russia; the most famous being the August 2022 vehicle bombing of Darya Dugina outside of Moscow. Could this have been an act of retaliation by Russian intelligence on Ukrainian territory?

Otherwise, is it possible that this was the work of a rival faction within Ukraine? Has Ukraine entered the “night of the long knives”? There is no denying that this is a rather peculiar situation.

Explore exclusive GGI coverage of Donald Trump’s assassination attempt.

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