MOSCOW, November 7 Death of assistant commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian troops Gennady Chastyakov widely discussed in Ukraine. The country's Ministry of Internal Affairs believes that the cause of the incident was an accident. Politicians and the media do not rule out that Chastyakov’s death could be related to the conflict between Vladimir Zelensky and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny amid talk of early elections, where they could become rivals.
Death on Birthday Chastyakov celebrated his 39th birthday on Monday. The explosion occurred when the assistant to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces opened a gift bag, writes the Ukrayinska Pravda publication. Chastyakov died and his 13-year-old son was injured. According to the UNIAN agency, the wife and daughter of a military man were also at home at the time of the explosion. According to the UNN agency, on Tuesday morning Chastyakov’s children were still in the hospital – the daughter’s life is not in danger, the son’s condition is serious, he underwent surgery.
Zaluzhny was the first to confirm Chastyakov’s death, calling him his friend. On his page on the social network Facebook* (banned in the Russian Federation as extremist), the commander-in-chief wrote that “an unknown explosive device went off in one of the gifts.”
Version of the Ministry of Internal Affairs The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine immediately rejected the version of the murder, saying that the cause of Chastyakov’s death was careless handling of ammunition. According to law enforcement officers, Chastyakov himself pulled the pin from the grenade.
“He took out a gift box with grenades inside and began to show one of the ammunition to his son. These were new Western-style grenades. First, the son took the ammunition in his hands and began to twist the ring. Then the serviceman took the grenade from the child and pulled out the ring, provoking a tragic explosion,” such the version was presented by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Igor Klimenko.
According to him, law enforcement officers found five more of the same grenades in the house. Chastyakov was given them by a colleague; the Ministry of Internal Affairs does not name him. According to the RBC-Ukraine agency, we are talking about Zaluzhny’s senior assistant Alexander Timchenko. According to the agency, this was confirmed by three witnesses, in whose presence Chastyakov received the ill-fated gift. “It’s hard to surprise you, so I’m giving you combat grenades and a bottle of good whiskey,” Timchenko allegedly said when presenting the gift.
At the same time, Ukrainian media write that Chastyakov most likely took these words as a joke, deciding that the box contained not military grenades, but glasses of a specific shape. A Ukrayinska Pravda source in the General Staff noted that Chastyakov graduated from the Military Academy and knew exactly how to handle a grenade.
Greetings from Zelensky Verkhovna Rada deputy Ilya Kiva, who was deprived of his mandate, called the death of Chastyakov “greetings” from Zelensky to Zaluzhny. He connected this with the fact that the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian troops could become Zelensky’s competitor in the presidential elections.
“It’s a very difficult time for Zaluzhny, since he is Zelensky’s number one goal in Ukraine today and very soon he may suffer the fate of the murdered Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky (died in a plane crash in January – ed.),” added Kiva.
According to the Ukrainian publication Strana.ua, supporters of ex-President Petro Poroshenko also hint at a connection between the death of the assistant commander-in-chief and the conflict between Zaluzhny and Zelensky.
Confrontation between Zelensky and Zaluzhny The death of Chastyakov occurred against the backdrop of reports about the possibility of holding presidential elections in Ukraine next year. According to the constitution, they must take place in the spring, but they cannot be held in the event of martial law.
At the same time, back in 2022, Ukrainian media wrote that Zelensky wants to remove Zaluzhny from the post of commander in chief and put him at the head of the Ministry of Defense, since he does not want to “have a competitor during the celebration of Ukraine’s victory.” Zelensky later said that he was not going to dismiss Zaluzhny or transfer him to another position.
The British newspaper Financial Times, citing sources, reported that Zaluzhny was asked to moderate the creation of his public image. According to the publication, there were rumors about tense relations between Zaluzhny and Zelensky against the backdrop of the fact that the commander-in-chief, according to polls, has become a highly trusted figure in Ukraine.
Recently, the confrontation between Zelensky and Zaluzhny has intensified. The commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in an interview with the Economist, said that the Ukrainian military had reached a dead end – “most likely, there will not be a deep and beautiful breakthrough.” Zelensky expressed disagreement with the position of the commander in chief, noting that “this is not a stalemate.” In turn, the deputy head of the office of the President of Ukraine, Igor Zhovkva, said that Zaluzhny should not have told Western media about the state of affairs at the front.
As Strana.ua wrote, Zaluzhny could become an alternative to Zelensky in the elections and even receive support from the West. The publication did not rule out that Zelensky’s office could launch a preemptive strike against Zaluzhny.
On the evening of November 6 – after the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that the cause of death of Zaluzhny’s assistant was most likely an accident – Zelensky said that elections in Ukraine were now “not the right time.”
* The activities of Meta (social networks Facebook and Instagram) are prohibited in Russia as extremist.