Grenade sent as birthday gift kills aide of Ukraine’s commander-in-chief
A close aide to the head of Ukraine’s armed forces died in a freak accident involving hand grenades gifted to him for his birthday, authorities say.
Major Gennady Chastyakov, 39, who was the assistant to Valery Zaluzhny, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, died Monday in his home while opening birthday gifts with his son.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine’s central region is investigating the incident. In a statement, authorities wrote that Chastyakov had returned home with birthday gifts given to him by colleagues, which included six “Western”-style grenades.
Chastyakov’s son allegedly picked up one of the grenades. When Chastyakov went to take it from him, the major pulled out the pin of the grenade, setting off an explosion.
Chastyakov “died on the spot,” prosecutors write, and his 13-year-old son “was hospitalized with serious injuries.”
The Major’s 11-year-old daughter also suffered minor injuries in the blast.
According to Maryana Reva, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, authorities know the identity of the man who likely gifted the grenades to the major, though his name has not been released. She claims that Chastyakov probably did not know the grenades were real.
“The person who probably gave these gifts confessed,” Reva said on national TV. “He warned that the grenades were live. The deceased probably did not believe this information.”
“During the initial investigation, it was established that this was indeed careless handling of the ammunition, and all the collected evidence, testimony indicates that it was an accident,” she added.
Interviews and evidence collection are still underway as authorities continue to investigate the incident, Reva said. Two similar grenades were found during a search of the man who allegedly gave Chastyakov the deadly gift.
Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny confirmed the death of his “assistant and close friend” in a Telegram post.
He wrote that Chastyakov’s death has caused “unspeakable pain” and represents a “heavy loss for the Armed Forces of Ukraine and for me personally.”
Zaluzhny also confirmed that Chastyakov died on his birthday.
“Gennady is survived by his wife and four children. My deepest condolences to the family,” he added.
Zaluzhny paid tribute to Chastyakov’s military service, writing: “Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Gennady has been a reliable shoulder for me, completely devoting his life to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the fight against Russian aggression.”