Birthday Gift Explodes, Kills Ukraine Officer, Wounds Son

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A grenade given as a birthday present has blown up and killed a close aide of the head of Ukraine’s armed forces Valery Zaluzhny.

Maj Hennadiy Chastyakov, 39, had returned to his flat with presents from his colleagues and was opening them with his son when the grenade exploded.

Maj Chastyakov was killed and his 13-year-old son left seriously wounded.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said the boy had started turning the ring on the grenade.

“Then, the serviceman took the grenade from the child and pulled the ring, causing a tragic explosion.”

Prosecutors clarified later that he had accidentally set off the grenade while trying to take it away from his son.

The blast has been described as a “tragic accident” and the minister appealed to the public to await the outcome of an official investigation. Police said the explosion in the family flat at Chaiky in the western outskirts of Kyiv had been “as a result of careless handling of ammunition”.

But it soon emerged that another five grenades had been found in the flat. Mr Klymenko said that they had been a gift from a colleague in the army.

Two similar grenades were later found in a search of the colleague, described as a colonel in the army.

Pictures from the scene showed other grenades on the floor of the flat, along with other gift bags. Maj Chastyakov had apparently brought the grenades home in a bag with a bottle of whisky.

A source told Ukrainska Pravda that the bottle had been in a gift bag with grenade-shaped glasses and the explosion happened when he opened the bag. Other reports said that his colleague had handed over the bottle saying: “It’s hard to surprise you: That’s why I’m giving you combat grenades and a bottle of good whisky.”

Gen Zaluzhny spoke of the unspeakable pain and heavy loss to the Ukrainian military and to him personally, describing Maj Chastyakov as a “reliable shoulder” since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

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