Anatoly Onoprienko (The Beast Of Ukraine, The Terminator, Citizen O)

Anatoliy Onoprienko , 39, shows his hands as he comments on the number of people he has killed, in his prison cell in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 30, 1999. The former sailor was declared guilty Wednesday in the worst killing spree in modern Ukrainian history, with a judge reading a lengthy verdict documenting 52 slayings. The detailed verdict took the whole court day to read, and sentencing for Onoprienko was not expected to be announced until Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Anatoliy Onoprienko , 39, shows his hands as he comments on the number of people he has killed, in his prison cell in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 30, 1999. The former sailor was declared guilty Wednesday in the worst killing spree in modern Ukrainian history, with a judge reading a lengthy verdict documenting 52 slayings. The detailed verdict took the whole court day to read, and sentencing for Onoprienko was not expected to be announced until Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Anatoly Onoprienko in common with Chikatilo is one of the most murderous killers of the Soviet Union and both of them are widely known not only in Russia. At the peak of his fame in the mid 90s Onoprienko led the list of the most bloodthirsty murderers of the last two centuries, according to news agency France Press. There’re many reasons why.

Anatoly Onoprienko was born on 25 July 1959 in small village Laski in Naroditchsky Region, Zhitomir. Tolya’s mother died when he was about 5 years old, his father had already cut loose from family. Till he was 7 he lived with grandparents and then was brought up in foster home. Terminator’s childhood was hard and joyless, he had no family and maybe this affected his formation as a robber and a serial killer.

The future maniac’s adolescence was quite ordinary. After foster home he studied at technical school to be a ranger, didn’t finish it and joined the army. After serving at Leningrad he went back to Ukraine, studied at nautical college in Odessa and then till 1986 worked as an engine-man and a sailor on several vessels. After his quit he worked as a fire chief in Dneproprudny, Zaporozhye.

Anatoly Onoprienko – The Beast of Ukraine

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Anatoly started his “career” in 1989 when he burglarized with his accomplice Sergey Rogozin, a veteran of Afghan war. His first victims were a married couple Anatoly shot dead when they came to their car. Later in court Onoprienko would have said that he had got neither enjoyment nor benefit from the killing.

Bloody biography: the life and crimes of the most cruel serial killer of the XXth century

In many ways Anatoly Onoprienko is an extraordinary murderer. None of serial killers enjoyed the “privilege” to have so many definitions: the Ukrainian Chikatilo, Family Murderer, Terminator of Chernobyl, Mister “Pay-Up”, Beast, Maniac of Bratkovychi and others. That case raised a lot of questions to which there aren’t still any …

In total 9 people were killed in 1989, all murders were committed in a similar way: Onoprienko just shot his victims. Among others an 11-year-old boy sleeping in a car was killed. Together with him the other four sitters were shot dead. Anatoly burned all bodies. As to this, Anatoly would have said that he had had no intention to kill people, his purpose had been only robbery.

Since this year in Onoprienko’s bloody series there was a long break. From 1989 to 1996 he travelled to Europe illegally having no visa and was deported from there twice, from Germany and from Austria. There’s no knowing what he did that time, according to his own words he was a simple worker. However, there’s a version that Anatoly lived by robbery, burglary and pilferage and this seems to be true to life. By the way, there’s no confirmation that Onoprienko could kill someone in Europe and he himself denied this blankly.

He continued to murder in Ukraine when he definitively got back there in 1995. Now the murderer acted without accomplices, in cool blood, on a firm and detailed plan. He felt not a scrap of pity on his victims, as he said time after time in court. “I’ve never been sorry about anything. I’m not sorry now”, here are his own words.

His new, really horrific series Anatoly Onoprienko started with the killing of Nikolay Zaitchenko and his family on the west of Ukraine. Zaitchenko, his wife and two children were cold-bloodedly shot just like previous victims of the maniac. He stole the wedding rings, some jewels and warm clothes. Then he fired the house.

Onoprienko told about one of his killings, “I came in when everybody was asleep. First I shot the host, then his wife who entreated not to shoot, then I knifed the six-year-old boy and strangled the three-month-old baby. Then I fired the house”. As is evident, he felt not a speck of sympathy for the children.

Next killings were committed on the last day of the year, on 31 December 1995. The Kryutchkovs didn’t have a chance to celebrate the holiday as the maniac with weapons broke into their house. The married couple and their young twin girls became the new victims of the killer who was called Terminator because he lynched adult men and their families with ease. The body of one of the girls was found in the kitchen, before she died she was so scared that she bit her arm to the bone. Terminator cut her mother’s finger off because he couldn’t slip the wedding ring off. From there he also took some expensive things and this house burned down together with its dead hosts. The maniac almost always acted in the same manner.

On that holiday thare was a real tragedy for residents of quiet village Bratkovitchi when two men who probably were witnesses of the previous massacre were killed in the same way.

Yet, in less than one week from that date, Anatoly Onoprienko continued his horrifying shenanigans. On 5 January in Zaporozhsky Region four people – two men in a broken car, a sketchy pedestrian and a pointsman – were killed. Four people more became the murderer’s victims next day. Except rings and earrings Onoprienko took a shot woman’s shoes and two packages with foods. All these crimes were committed on a high-road Berdyansk-Dnepropetrovsk and Onoprienko killed mainly people in a parked car.

On 17 January Citizen O visited Bratkovitchi again. The village that became the main area of the heartless maniac’s activity lost 7 men. For family consisting of 5 people (2 adults, 2 seniors and a six-year-old baby) and also two pedestrians whom Onoprienko came across this day was fatal.

During this time the murderer lived with his cousin Peter in a military town Yavorov only 20 km from the scene of all crimes. There Onoprienko met Anna Kozak, a divorced woman. Anna worked as a hairdresser, had her own flat and two children. She fall in love with Anatoly at first sight and asked him to move and live with her.

The woman was very happy that she met Anatoly, a clever and quiet man, a tower of strength in life. Of course, she didn’t even suspect that her lover could have another life while he under the pretence of visiting the cousin or some “business” traveled over the country and butchered whole families.

4 people (2 children were among them) were shot in Kiev Region on 30 January. In three weeks in Oblevsk, Zhitomir Region, the Dubtchaks were killed: father and son were shot, mother and daughter were beaten with a hammer to death. On 28 February in Lvov Region the Bondartchuks were murdered: Onoprienko killed two children and the family’s neighbour with an axe.

The criminal committed his last killings on 22 March 1996 taking the lives of members of family who lived not far from Bratkovitchi. He added five more people to his bloody list ripping a child open from belly to throat in a literal sense.

Ukraine police worked really hard: the maniac must have been arrested by any means (and now it was clear that one man committed all these crimes but not a group of criminals as it’d been supposed before). According to his lawyer Ruslan Moshkovsky, the murderer could be stopped at the beginning of his bloody series in 1989. In fact, that time Rogozin and Onoprienko were charged of several crimes and all the facts were obvious. But at the last moment everything went wrong and for some unknown reason police stopped gunning for Onoprienko (You can read more in Moshkovsky’s interview, there’s interesting information about the case and the procedure in court).

Finally, in several months of intensive work by law enforcement agencies they could find the killer as they knew where he lived. A round up of the criminal became the greatest over the Ukrainian history. Special forces units armed with heavy weapons and in common about 2 000 people were involved.

All these measures were needless. On 16 April Citizen O even not suspecting anything calmly opened the front door of Anna Kozak’s flat. The policemen stormed in and rounded up Anatoly in a crack. It put an end to the terrible serial killings beginning in the Soviet period and lasting six bloody years.

Thereafter Onoprienko had been kept in solitary for a long time taking advantage of a critical delay in trial which often happen in Russia, unfortunately. The preparation of the hearing took much time because the case consisted of many volumes and there were some problems with budgeting: it was necessary to pay for more than 400 witnesses’ passage and accommodation.

Finally, on 24 November 1998 the proceedings were initiated. As previously noted, Onoprienko’s lawyer was Ruslan Moshkovsky. By the way, during the trial the criminal asked to change his lawyer to more experienced and self-sufficient one but his request was rejected.

There was incredible excitement of the trial of “Terminator”. The hearing room was almost always overcrowded, during the trials people crowded round the courthouse. The policemen had to protect the murderer from public and vice versa: almost everyone wished death on Onoprienko and many people claimed that his death must be painful.

During the hearing Onoprienko behaved quite defiantly. He refused to announce his nationality, called himself “a prisoner of justice”, didn’t bear testimony. At the same time he calmly admitted that he committed murders of more than 50 people, moreover, he seemed to be proud of them ascribing to him even more murders. He told absolutely coldly about the killing of little children and stated that they aroused neither a rag of compassion nor an emotional outburst or, by and large, any emotions.

The murderer explained his crimes by the fact that some voice from on high ordered him to kill. It’s hard to believe this, furthermore, such criminals’ evasion is hackneyed, just remember David Berkovitz. In general, Terminator told about his motives a lot and in quite a sophisticated manner. If his words are true, there is the following picture.

The murderer planned three series of killings, each of them was done “for a good cause”: the first series included 9 victims (against disappearing communism), the second – 40 victims (against neonationalism) and more than 300 killings in the third series (against the 21st century plague). This is due to the fact that people pray for the dead in 9 and 40 days after death and then every year. The first series were committed by him together with Sergey Rogozin (but Onoprienko didn’t explain his role in this “mystical” story) but acting alone the murderer “beat the target” – he took away 43 human lives. The arrest precluded from the next butchery and the “benefactor” didn’t have a chance to save the humankind from the plague.

It’s obvious that Onoprienko’s nonsense served several aims such as making himself crazier than he was or just a gallery play. However, what he said about some new victims wasn’t mere words. But the defendant said to his lawyer (according to Moshkovsky) that he had committed all these crimes just for a wish for lining his pockets. It’s unlikely too because there wasn’t some profit from the killings. Anyway, the trial of the maniac continued.

The hearing had been lasted for 4 months and ended up in passing a death sentence on Citizen O on 3 March. The judge had to read the sentence several times because many people bellowed out from their places and there was too noisy in the hearing room. Onoprienko accepted the death sentence coolly staring at the floor. His accomplice Sergey Rogozin was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment (the prosecutor demanded 15 years).

In 2000 in Ukraine the moratorium on capital punishment was introduced and the sentence wasn’t implemented. However, residents of Zhitomir and other Ukrainian cities and towns collected signatures addressing to President Kutchma and advocating for suspending the operation of moratorium specially for Onoprienko. These requirements weren’t fulfilled. Nearly 7 years later, he jails in Zhitomir. Prison guards say that he reads a lot, behaves calmly and composedly and hopes that he’ll get liberty one day. But we would like to believe that it would never happen because Onoprienko once said, “If I have a chance to be out, I’ll start killing again”.