Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anatoly Onoprienko, Citizen O


After just 3 hours of deliberation, Judge Dmytro Lypsky called the court back into session.  Onoprienko stood head bent, staring at the floor of his metal cage as the sentence was read.  "In line with Ukraine's criminal code, Onoprienko is sentenced to the death penalty by shooting," Judge Lypsky announced to the court.

In his final statement to the court, Onoprienko exclaimed, "I've robbed and killed, but I'm a robot, I don't feel anything, I've been close to death so many times that it's even interesting for me now to venture into the afterworld, to see what is there, after this death."  

Onoprienko on videotape in jail (AP/Wide World)
Onoprienko on
videotape in jail
(AP/Wide World)

"Thank goodness that's over," said a secretary leaving the hearing.

The death sentence ruling put the Ukraine in an awkward position.  Under its obligations as a Council of Europe member, they had committed to abolishing capital punishment.  Nonetheless, both the public and the politicians argued that the Onoprienko case was an exception. 

Following his sentencing, Onoprienko, the media dubbed "Terminator," gave a lengthy interview to a London Times reporter.  During their meeting, Onoprienko reminisced about the murders he had committed.

"I started preparing for prison life a long time ago -- I fasted, did yoga, I am not afraid of death," he said.  "Death for me is nothing.  Naturally, I would prefer the death penalty.  I have absolutely no interest in relations with people. I have betrayed them.

"The first time I killed, I shot down a deer in the woods.  I was in my early twenties and I recall feeling very upset when I saw it dead.  I couldn't explain why I had done it, and I felt sorry for it.  I never had that feeling again.

Leonid Kuchma, Ukranian president
Leonid Kuchma,
Ukranian president

"If I am ever let out, I will start killing again, but this time it will be worse, ten times worse.  The urge is there. Seize this chance because I am being groomed to serve Satan.  After what I have learnt out there, I have no competitors in my field.  And if I am not killed I will escape from this jail and the first thing I'll do is find Kuchma (the Ukrainian president) and hang him from a tree by his testicles."

Onoprienko's accomplice in the first set of murders, 36-year-old Serhiy Rogozin, was sentenced to 13 years in prison.  Anatoly Onoprienko currently resides on death row as authorities are still looking into a string of additional murders that took place between 1989 and 1995.  Since there is a gap in Onoprienko's life during that time that he will not discuss and which cannot be accounted for, he remains a suspect in them.  

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