On June 18, a farewell ceremony was held in Kyiv for 24-year-old Roman Ratushnyi, an activist who fought against illegal construction, corruption, and police brutality. First, a funeral service was held in Mykhailivskyi Cathedral, and then Roman Ratushnyi’s body was brought to Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Hundreds of people came to say goodbye to him: activists, soldiers, journalists, urban planners, active youth, and just Kyivans. Ratushnyi was buried in Baykove Cemetery. Zaborona tells what kind of person Roman Ratushnyi was and why the work he was doing will live on for many generations.
Who is Roman Ratushnyi?
Roman Ratushnyi was born on July 5, 1997. His parents are Taras Ratushnyi, an activist of the Save Old Kyiv movement, and Svitlana Povaliaeva, a writer and journalist. When Roman was 15, the Revolution of Dignity began. The guy was one of the first participants – on the night of November 30, he was beaten by Berkut (riot police) together with other students.
After the Maidan, Roman Ratushnyi became involved in activism – most of his activities concerned illegal buildings in Kyiv. In 2018, Ratushnyi founded the Let’s Protect Protasiv Yar initiative, which grew into a full-fledged NGO within a year. The members of the organization are fighting against the construction in the green zone of Protasiv Yar.
Fighting property developers
The high-rise buildings that were planned on the territory of Protasiv Yar were to be built by Daytona Group. In May 2019, the developer announced the construction of a residential complex Tourbillon – a three 40-story building on the site of Protasiv Yar. A fence was erected at the site where construction was to begin.
The locals did not like the idea. They went out to protest and appealed to all possible government agencies to stop construction. Residents of the district chose their neighbor Roman Ratushnyi as their representative.
As a result of appeals and protests, Daytona Group became a participant in several criminal proceedings. And after the activists’ lawsuit, the company was banned from building anything on the site. The City Council returned the status of the green area to Protasiv Yar.
Conflicts with politicians
According to the nominal head of the company, the beneficiaries of Daytona Group were Dnipro businessmen Hennadiy Korban and Oleh Levin. After the last court hearing in the case of the construction in Protasiv Yar, Andriy Smirnov, who represented the interests of Korban and Levin in court, decided to meet with Ratushnyi.
At the meeting, Smirnov, who soon became deputy head of the President’s Office, tried to “resolve the issue” with activists. He offered Ratushnyi money and said that the activist “underestimated the Dnipro businessmen” – as they can “take out” Roman and he does not need “all this shooting.” The recording of the conversation was published on the Facebook page of The Let’s protect Protasiv Yar initiative. Roman and his colleagues believe that this was a direct threat.
A few days later, Roman Ratushnyi was personally threatened by Hennadiy Korban. It happened publicly: the businessman wrote threats simply in Facebook comments. Korban was indignant that Roman had tagged him in the post and promised to find the guy and “tag him too”, calling the activist “the devil.” In addition, Korban threatened to send Ratushnyi to the front as punishment – to which Roman replied that for him the defense of the Motherland is not a punishment.
After that, Ratushnyi noticed that he and his house were being watched. His sources said that the activist was planned to be abducted and killed – he had to hide for more than a month. Then the community of Protasiv Yar wrote an appeal to Volodymyr Zelensky to influence the situation and protect Ratushnyi’s life. However, criminal proceedings on threats to the activist were never opened.
Now Korban denies his involvement in the pressure on Ratushnyi. He even reacted to the news published by Hromadske about the death of the activist, which mentioned the conflict with Korban. The editorial office received a letter, from a Dnipro businessman demanding to refute information about his connection with the Daytona Group and the threat to Ratushnyi. Korban considered it slander.
Detention and house arrest
In March 2021, Roman Ratushnyi protested against the illegal imprisonment of activist Serhiy Sternenko. During the rally, participants smashed the windows of the President’s Office and painted the facade of the building. The next day, some Dnipro media reported that Ratushnyi personally painted a swastika at the entrance to the building. The activist denied it.
The then Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Herashchenko posted a video on the Internet, which shows how Ratushnyi allegedly paints a swastika on the facade. The same video appeared on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But a little later it turned out that the video was edited: Ratushnyi’s face was taken from a video of another rally. When asked by lawyers how this could have happened, the ministry said that Herashchenko is an individual and they are not responsible for the content he publishes.
After the publication of the video, Ratushnyi was detained. He was charged with group hooliganism with pre-procured weapons. The court sent Roman Ratushnyi under house arrest with electronic surveillance. The activist even shot a humorous video about life with an electronic bracelet.
“I associate this decision directly with the Deputy Head of the President’s Office Andriy Smirnov, who has a personal dislike for me because of my defense of Protasiv Yar. They decided to get rid of me under the guise of that rally and put me on the list of suspects. And so they handed over to me that suspicion and already chose a measure of restraint. I understand that even if I had not attended that rally, they would have come up with something else,” said Roman to Zaborona.
The activist’s lawyers filed an appeal against the arrest and won the trial, dropping all charges against Ratushnyi.
After February 24, Roman Ratushnyi decided to go to war. At first, he joined the territorial defense – the Protasiv Yar unit. He defended Kyiv, and later the Sumy region, where he liberated the occupied settlements in the region as part of the unit.
In early April, Ratushnyi joined the reconnaissance platoon of the 2nd Motorized Infantry Battalion of the Kholodny Yar 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces. This battalion defended Ukrainian land in the Kharkiv region, in particular in the Izyum area. On June 9, Roman Ratushnyi was ambushed and killed. His death was officially confirmed on June 14, and his body was brought to Kyiv on June 16th.
The thing that will live longer than him
The fact that Ratushnyi died became known to the public from a Facebook post on the Let’s Protect Protasiv Yar page. The same message says that the organization intends to make a park in Protasiv Yar, which will be named after Roman Ratushnyi. An oak tree is being planted in his honor.
Ratushnyi’s mother, Svitlana Povaliaeva, said that her son had bequeathed to support financially the Shevchenko Museum, the Maiboroda National Bandura Chapel, as well as Istorychna Pravda, and Novynarnia media. Svitlana also donated to the Hospitaliers volunteer medical battalion and several other volunteer organizations that purchase equipment and facilities for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Vakhtang Kipiani, founder and editor-in-chief of Istorychna Pravda, said he planned to introduce several Roman Ratushnyi awards for young authors for publications on Kyiv’s history and preservation of the capital’s historical heritage.
The Kyiv Digital app, which is currently allowing voting on the de-Russification of city streets, proposes to rename Volhohradska Street to Roman Ratushnyi Street. To vote, you need to open the application, press the K button, find the Electronic Democracy section, and then the Derusification section. Then in the search box, you should search for Volhohradska street and vote for the version of Roman Ratushnyi street.