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Police abuses fuel outrage in Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine — Halyna Dushenko remembers the night of June 13, 2006 particularly well.

It was the last time she saw her son, Serhiy, alive.

“He went to a bar to meet with his former classmates,” she says. “He never returned home.”

The 25-year-old law student, who was two months shy of marriage, unwittingly made a fatal mistake that night: he stumbled on a drug deal conducted out of the local police chief’s car.

Dushenko believes her son was drugged and beaten to death — a victim of revenge perpetrated by what she says are the corrupt and marauding law enforcement officials that have plagued her district in southern Ukraine for years.

The police classified Serhiy’s death as a hit-and-run accident. But Dushenko, who visited him in the hospital hours before he died, says his physical injuries — including a nose broken in three places — were inconsistent with the official version.

Besides, she says, that sort of thing happens all the time in her town, and no one is ever punished.

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